Following the free agency of future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, the New England Patriots need to find a new starting quarterback for the first time since 1993. Even though second-year man Jarrett Stidham currently looks like the frontrunner to earn the job, nothing appears to be set in stone just yet — especially when it comes to the long-term outlook of replacing Brady. Accordingly, the Patriots are in the market to add another quarterback via the draft.
While there is a chance that they address the position in the first round, the team might be more willing to look for a developmental prospects to groom alongside Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer on Day Two. One player who could catch their eye in such a scenario is Georgia’s Jake Fromm. Let’s therefore take a closer look at the junior passer who has already had a pre-draft meeting with the Patriots at the scouting combine in February.
Name: Jake Fromm
School: Georgia (junior)
Opening day age: 22
2019 stats: 14 games; 385 attempts, 234 completions (60.8%), 2,860 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 99.1 passer rating
Size: 6017, 219 lbs, 8.88 hand size, 31.13 arm length
Workout numbers: 5.01 40-yard dash, 7.27 three-cone drill, 4.51 short shuttle, 903 broad jump, 30.0 vertical jump
Expected round: 3rd
Patriots pre-draft meeting: Scouting combine
Strengths: Fromm may not be the flashiest of prospects at the quarterback position, but he does offer a solid floor that should translate well to the NFL. His processing skills and ability to go through his progressions are good, and he generally sees the field well. Simultaneously, he also possesses a natural feel for the pocket: while he may lack the mobility to move around the pocket regularly in order to extend plays or keep them alive, he does know when to climb in the face of pressure or when to take subtle steps in order to buy himself additional time.
Fromm, who regularly lined up under center, also is a good anticipatory thrower that has a good touch on the ball and offers some clean mechanics: his drop-backs are smooth, he delivers the ball withouts any hiccups, and he keeps his lower body steady and his platform stable throughout his motion. As a result, the 21-year-old throws a very accurate ball. What also helps him do that is his willingness to stand in the pocket and let routes develop — he knows how to keep his cool even in the face of pressure or when plays are starting to break down.
He may not be the best improvisational passer, and work better when able to get into a steady rhythm, but he does not take many risks when a play is not there. In general, he tries to avoid turnovers at any cost. That said, Fromm trusts his receivers to make plays and tries to put them in a favorable position. He also offers solid experience, having started 42 games for the Bulldogs in three years. A team captain in 2019, he furthermore is a noted leader and was described as a coachable player with a good mix of coachability and confidence.
Weaknesses: While his floor is high and he could be able to play some quality, NFL-caliber football right away, Fromm’s ceiling appears to be limited due to a variety of factors. His arm strength might be the biggest among them: he does not have an arm that allows him to consistently put the requisite zip on the ball in order to challenge all areas of the field, and his throws oftentimes hang in the air which makes them susceptible to be jumped by defensive backs with NFL-level reactionary skills and athleticism.
Fromm’s accuracy in the short and intermediate range might be good, but he is no consistent threat as a deep passer and often misses the mark on balls that travel more than 20 yards in the air. He also is better when it comes to working the middle of the field instead of the perimeter. His limited throwing power in combination with his risk-aversion also leads to him oftentimes not challenging tight spots even if plays could be there, or being unable to properly put the ball into windows that are closing.
His comparatively average athleticism could also hurt Fromm’s stock. He is no threat as a ball-carrier or when it comes to making plays outside of the pocket: as noted above, his improvisational skills can be described as marginal and he will not be able to spin out of pressure on a consistent basis. He is a pure pocket passer that needs to work off a clean platform to be at his best. Fromm also lacks the desired size both in terms of height and hand size.
What would be his role? Fromm does offer some intriguing traits and has a higher floor than a lot of quarterbacks in this year’s draft, but he would likely serve a depth option in Year One: either the number three behind projected starter Stidham and backup Hoyer, or maybe even the number two in case he adapts to life in the NFL quickly and leap-frogs the veteran over the course of the summer. Either way, Fromm should be expected to see most of his action during preseason while also running the scout team during the regular season.
How many downs can he play? Theoretically all three or four offensive downs, but the best-case scenario for 2020 would be that he only gets such a chance during New England’s preseason contests.
What is his special teams value? Fromm’s special teams value is virtually non-existent. He could serve as a backup holder on field goal and extra point attempts behind punter Jake Bailey, but likely would be handed this role only if he can carve out the number two spot on the roster and in turn be a safe bet to make the 48-man game day squad on a weekly basis.
Does he have positional versatility? As noted above, he could serve as an emergency holder on special teams. Other than that, however, Fromm’s positional versatility is limited to playing the quarterback position. This is especially true due to the fact that he offers no truly outstanding athletic traits, which effectively eliminates him from filling a gadget passer role like the one played by Taysom Hill in New Orleans.
Will his role change from Year One to Year Two? Fromm’s role in both 2020 and beyond will likely depend on the players ahead of him on the quarterback depth chart upon his arrival in New England, especially projected starter Jarrett Stidham. The best-case-scenario from the Patriots’ perspective would be that either Stidham or Fromm established themselves as the clear-cut QB1 by 2021. Stidham would have the inside track from the current perspective, but a lot could change over the next 12 months.
Which current Patriots will he have to beat out? The Patriots currently carry only two quarterbacks on their roster, with one of them — Stidham — a lock to make the team. Hoyer, and any potential draft pick(s), meanwhile, would be battling for the number two role behind the second-year quarterback. Hoyer would be the favorite in this scenario due to his experience and noted leadership, but Fromm could still surprise and take over the job just like Stidham did last summer.
Why the Patriots? New England needs to find a starting quarterback. While Stidham is the odds-on favorite, adding more players to the equation would be smart business considering that the second-year passer has not yet proven that he can carry the load and adequately fill Tom Brady’s enormous shoes. While Fromm does not have as high a ceiling as other passers expected to come off the board early but within the Patriots’ reach — Utah State’s Jordan Love, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, Washington’s Jacob Eason — his quick processing skills and accurate arm make him an interesting prospect that does bring starter upside to the table and at the very least should become a long-term backup.
Why not the Patriots? As noted above, Fromm’s ceiling is comparatively low as he does not possess any truly outstanding athletic traits. Going with a higher-upside option on Day Two might therefore be a more feasible move for the Patriots considering the current composition of their quarterback depth chart. Furthermore, the Georgia product does not quite match what the team is historically looking for from a size perspective: while he would still fit the team’s prototype in terms of height, his hands are below the 9-inch threshold it appears to have established following Kevin O’Connell’s selection in 2008. On top of it all, his comparatively mediocre arm might make it difficult for him to consistently push the ball in New England’s weather.
Verdict: The term “game manager” is oftentimes thrown around almost in derogatory fashion, especially on social media. Being able to properly manage a game from the quarterback position is a valuable skill, however, and one the Patriots put a lot of stock in. Fromm has proven that he can do just that during his time at Georgia, and therefore appears to be a natural target for the team should it opt to add another passer to the equation in one of the early rounds next week.