The New England Patriots elected not to draft Georgia QB Jacob Fromm. With the Buffalo Bills taking him, he could become a future villain for the team.
The New England Patriots franchise stumbled upon the greatest quarterback of all-time in the 2000 NFL Draft, selecting Tom Brady with the 199th pick in the sixth round. Brady was the seventh quarterback selected in that draft, inspiring ESPN’s “Brady 6” documentary.
In this year’s NFL Draft, the seventh quarterback selected was Georgia’s Jacob Fromm by the Patriots’ division foe, the Buffalo Bills.
While there may never be another Tom Brady (Patrick Mahomes could argue), Fromm is going to end up being the biggest steal of the draft, just like Brady was.
In a text message to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Buffalo’s general manager Brandon Beane said he wasn’t planning on drafting a quarterback on Saturday, but the value Fromm offered was “too good to pass up,” per Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells.
With the Bills already having Josh Allen entering his third season as the starting quarterback, there’s no debate that Allen won’t be under center Week 1 in Buffalo.
Like Brady though, if Fromm gets his chance in the regular season, it’s a good bet he will make it extremely difficult for head coach Sean McDermott and his staff to turn back to Allen … simply because of the competitive nature that Fromm has always had and his signature ability to translate it into success.
Fromm had pressure put on him before entering the high school ranks.
The quarterback was a key cog in Georgia’s Little League Baseball World Series team that made a run in 2011. Fromm had a 1.08 ERA on the mound and batted .393 at the plate.
From there, Fromm’s athletic image only grew.
On the football field, Fromm was ranked as a five-star recruit coming out of high school. Added to that pressure, his senior season at Houston County High School was documented in the web-series QB1: Beyond the Lights.
Before he even put on the Georgia uniform, people already knew Fromm and the expectations were set high.
Fromm appeared in 43 games at Georgia, compiling a 36-7 record, including one national championship appearance in his freshman season, a 26-23 loss.
One of the most decorated quarterbacks in Bulldogs history, Fromm’s 8,224 career passing yards rank fourth all-time, his 78 passing touchdowns rank second, his 621 completions rank fourth, and his 982 attempts rank fifth.
A quarterback’s ability to perform against elite competition is something I look closely at while evaluating one’s ability to succeed at the highest level. This is because speed, coaching, strength, etc. is all more on par with what the NFL brings to the table.
Against Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Florida, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Texas, Fromm was 234-for-379 (62 percent) passing with 2,835 yards (7.4 yards per attempt), 27 touchdowns, and six interceptions.
To put those numbers into perspective, this year’s No. 1 overall pick, Joe Burrow, went 174-for-286 (60 percent) for 2,596 yards (9.08 yards per attempt) and threw for 19 touchdowns with five interceptions against these common opponents — minus Notre Dame and Baylor, who Burrow did not face in his collegiate career.
Those numbers are similar, with Burrow having the clear edge in yards per attempt (inflated a little bit by his 12.64 yards per attempt against Oklahoma in last year’s College Football Playoff semifinal game).
Fromm also struggled against a pair of SEC opponents — one that I’d consider an elite program, while the other not so much.
Against LSU and South Carolina, Fromm went 95-for-167 (57 percent) for 1,119 yards (6.7 yards per attempt) in his Georgia career with six touchdowns and eight interceptions. Those numbers left some to be desired, but overall throughout his three-year stint at Georgia, Fromm performed admirably in the big games.
He also continued to show his competitive nature while at Georgia, taking Jacob Eason’s job during his freshman season and eventually leading Georgia to the National Championship. Then going into his sophomore campaign, highly-touted recruit Justin Fields was looking to take Fromm’s job, but the returning starter held off Fields in a quarterback controversy.
It’s clear Fromm has an admirable work ethic based off just these two circumstances from his time with the Bulldogs.
So why is he the seventh quarterback off the board … and in the fifth round?
In the NFL Draft, there’s a lot of emphasis put on physical intangibles. The quarterback who makes the “wow” throw at the combine or has the athleticism to open up the playbook will benefit greatly during the pre-draft process.
NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein worked on Fromm’s pro analysis — comparing him to Colt McCoy — and projected Fromm to go in Rounds 3-4.
Zierlein’s overview of Fromm read:
"“Heady quarterback who is light on physical traits but sees the game like a pro signal-caller most of the time. Fromm has big-game experience and proved to be a worthy challenger against Alabama as a freshman and sophomore. He’s a full-field reader who has shown a consistent ability to change plays and make smart pre- and post-snap decisions. Arm strength is a concern, and that concern may be exacerbated if his ball placement and timing aren’t more consistent. He’s an intelligent game-manager whose range is good backup to middling starter, but he will be scheme- and skill-position-needy at the next level.”"
The arm strength argument is something I fully disagree with, as I’ve seen Fromm make some big throws in big moments.
In the National Championship during his freshman season against Alabama, Fromm hit Mecole Hardman on a 80-yard touchdown pass — a perfectly-placed ball to top it at 6:32 in the clip.
More recently, in this past college football season’s SEC Championship game against the prolific LSU offense led by Burrow, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart put the ball in Fromm’s hands to start the game off with a big play.
Fromm did just that, but his receiver, senior Tyler Simmons, dropped the ball at the beginning of the video below.
Among the first seven quarterbacks selected, Fromm (8.4) ranked fourth in terms of yards per attempt behind Tua Tagovailoa (10.9), Burrow (9.4) and Jalen Hurts (9.1). This is particularly interesting because he ranked ahead of Eason, Jordan Love, and Justin Herbert — all quarterbacks who drew rave reviews in terms of their arm strength.
Why the Patriots missed
Like all rookies, there’s never a true case to be made for a player’s potential until they get on the field and take live reps against the highest competitive level the game of football offers.
While true, Fromm’s ability to put together a successful career at Georgia in the toughest conference in college football, the SEC, certainly should stand out along with his performances against most of the elite teams he faced.
Bill Belichick is a coach who has always loved the value player, the guy who is going to return the most at a low cost. Fromm is going to be that guy in this draft.
Fromm’s not Brady — he’s just getting his NFL career underway — but the scouting reports the two had in the pre-draft process resemble each other pretty much to a tee.
Below are some of the scouting reports on Brady coming out of Michigan in the 2000 NFL Draft, coming from longtime NFL Draft reporter Bob McGinn’s story published on The Athletic:
"“Very accurate, good toughness, good leadership,” was what a then-Chicago Bears directors of college scouting Bill Rees wrote. “Has a chance to be a good player in the league in time. I think he’d be a real solid backup initially and end up growing into a starter.”"
It didn’t stop just at that, either:
"“He had that great bowl game, but I think he’s just very common,” a scout of one NFC team said, according to McGinn. “He’s a bony, very thin kind of guy. God, you can see his ribs on his build. His arm is just adequate.”"
Another scout referred to Brady as being a smart guy and proceeded to say that was about all he was, and that he didn’t like him as an NFL prospect.
Fromm is accurate, tough, competitive, has a said-adequate arm and is a smart quarterback, as proven throughout his football career to this point. He’s also an exceptional leader who knows how to win football games.
Years from now Fromm may be lining up against the Patriots as the Bills’ franchise quarterback, and New England fans may just be left wondering why Belichick took six players — including a kicker — instead of Fromm.