Jake Fromm wasn’t expected to be among the first quarterbacks taken in this week’s 2020 NFL Draft. Few saw him sliding all the way to the fifth round though. He was taken at No. 167 by the Buffalo Bills.
Fromm is one of the winningest quarterbacks in recent college football history. He beat out two other five-stars, Jacob Eason and Justin Fields, to take and then hold onto the Georgia job. Both transferred away from UGA. Eason went before him in this year’s draft, and Fields is a potential top five pick next year.
After a long exodus of talent away from Georgia’s offense following the 2019 season, Fromm’s numbers took a pretty stark dip. After two seasons averaging nine yards per attempt, he fell to 7.4 as a junior. He had college career lows in completion percentage and quarterback rating.
Yahoo Sports‘ Pete Thamel took a deep dive in the issues that drove Fromm down draft boards. Some are not too surprising: the Bulldogs QB never had the strongest arm, and didn’t test super well at the NFL Combine. Beyond that, however, Thamel believes Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has earned a good amount of the blame for how he’s handled his quarterbacks, and the UGA offense as a whole.
NFL draft: How UGA's Jake Fromm became the biggest freefall of the NFL Draft. Column on why Fromm fell so far and what it says about UGA. https://t.co/3e7QkaDw4S
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) April 26, 2020
Jim Chaney was the offensive coordinator for Jake Fromm’s first two Georgia seasons. He left for Tennessee after 2018, prompting Smart to promote James Coley. After a very down year for the offense, Todd Monken is coming over to run the Dawgs offense.
Thamel calls that kind of turnover “Will Muschamp-like,” which is not something most SEC East fanbases want ascribed to their teams. In failing to find a way to keep Fields on campus, or to build a better offense that could accentuate Fromm’s talent, Thamel says that Smart effectively “had a pair of aces and somehow folded.” He says concerns about Smart’s ability to build on that side of the ball could wind up becoming bigger issues for Georgia as a whole.
Part of the reason Fromm left Georgia is because the offense wasn’t suited to highlight his skills. Or anyone’s skills, really. He escaped an offense inhibited by a talent deficiency at wide receiver, inexperience at coordinator and nagged by a lack of creativity. Sure, there were two first-round picks at tackle and the electric D’Andre Swift. But there was little else, allowing defenses to stack the box.
“I don’t think there’s any question the offense held him back,” said an opposing defensive coach familiar with Georgia’s scheme. “Anytime you have a change at the coordinator position and it’s new, there’s going to be growing pains.”
This year is a chance to turn the page. Monken is a pretty forward thinking coach, and the new Georgia quarterback, Wake Forest grad transfer Jamie Newman, is a pretty dynamic athlete. In another world, that could be junior Justin Fields, but if Smart and Monken can help Newman take a leap, it will help matters a lot. They also have blue-chip prospect Carson Beck waiting in the wings.
If not, though, you can be sure this starts to linger into the negative recruiting that Georgia faces on the trail.