Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ruled the NFL draft discussion for the last two years. But over the last few months, a new crop of QBs stole the focus. Joe Burrow’s improbable Heisman run skyrocketed him to a consensus top-two pick. With his history and the desperate need in Cincinnati, it appears Burrow is headed to the Bengals. Jalen Hurts has the stats to go very high in the draft. Justin Herbert appears locked in as a top-10 pick. With Tagovailoa’s injury concerns, could recently-declared Georgia QB Jake Fromm secretly be the best quarterback available?
Jake Fromm’s quiet success in the SEC
Kyler Murray won the Heisman in 2018 and attracted the sports world’s attention. While Murray deliberated between football and baseball, Jake Fromm quietly put together a stellar season with more than 2,700 yards passing and 30 touchdowns against only six interceptions.
Many pundits predicted that Fromm wouldn’t declare for the 2020 NFL draft with the plethora of QB talent already populating the first few rounds. But with a proven track record and enough success to find a spot on many teams’ draft boards, Fromm might be the draft’s biggest surprise.
It’s unlikely that the Bengals will budge. Burrow is a perfect fit for their organization, and he’s from Ohio. But after Burrow, the QB rankings can get pretty tricky. Tagovailoa hasn’t picked up a football since mid-November. Despite his popularity, he could be a gamble in the draft. After all, analysts couldn’t decide if Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf was the better draft pick. Scouting improved over time, and projections are better now, but there’s no way to guarantee a player will do well (or poorly) in the NFL.
Jake Fromm’s path to a strong 2019
Jake Fromm began his college career as a backup QB for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2017. His backup role lasted exactly 8:25 of game time in the first week of the season. Starting QB Jacob Eason took a rough sack, and Fromm took over. From that point, Fromm led the Bulldogs to a 36-7 record over three years as the starter.
In 2018, Fromm and the Bulldogs won the Rose Bowl in a double-overtime thriller. The Bulldogs topped Oklahoma in a semifinal of the college football playoff, and Fromm passed for a pair of touchdowns in the 54-48 win. He capped his career and raised his draft stock with two TDs in a Sugar Bowl victory against Baylor on January 1, 2020.
Joe Burrow finishes strong ahead of 2020 NFL draft
After a slow start in the NCAA title game, Joe Burrow threw for five touchdowns and ran one in on his own as LSU easily beat Clemson (by significantly more than 5.5 points, to the delight of many watching and wagering fans). Any pundits expecting Burrow to stumble in his final college game were sorely disappointed.
But Jake Fromm doesn’t need Burrow to drop on draft day to surprise critics. Whether a team drafts Fromm in the first, second, or sixth round, he has the potential to make big moves in the NFL. Few quarterbacks in the 2020 draft will enter the league with more experience.
Historic draft mistakes
Every time Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes (or Deshaun Watson) take the field, much is made of the Chicago Bears’ fateful decision to trade up and draft Trubisky. Even in the year 2020, the NFL draft doesn’t always see the best player go No. 1 overall. While it’s clear that Jake Fromm won’t make it past a few of the other standout collegiate QBs on draft day, he could very well pass them in all-time stats 20 years from now. Many of the players that thrive at the highest level of college football don’t succeed in the NFL. By the same token, many players with middling college careers go on to have incredible NFL careers under a different coaching scheme or position.
Tom Brady and Russell Wilson both proved critics very wrong with their post-draft careers. Brady, possibly the greatest player of all time, didn’t find a team until the 199th pick of the draft. Wilson was 75th overall and joined Brady in winning a sophomore Super Bowl. After Burrow’s performance in the national championship, it’s unlikely that Fromm will pass him in the draft. Luckily for Fromm fans, he can still shock the world. His college stats are strong, and he’s shown remarkable durability over his short career. Of the young quarterbacks declaring for the 2020 draft, he might just end up the greatest when all is said and done.