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Why did new Bills QB Jake Fromm fall so far in the 2020 NFL Draft?

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The former Georgia QB had to wait well into Day 3 to hear his name be called.

SEC Championship - Georgia v LSU Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Jake Fromm was the most high-profile faller in the 2020 NFL Draft. The former Georgia quarterback was still waiting to get selected after Rounds 1, 2, and 3. At that point, five quarterbacks had been selected.

By the time Day 3 arrived, Fromm had to watch as even more quarterbacks got picked before he did, including:

  • Washington’s Jacob Eason, who Fromm replaced at Georgia in 2017 after Eason suffered a knee injury. Eason went to the Colts with the No. 122 overall pick in the fourth round.
  • James Morgan, who put up similar numbers as Eason for two seasons playing in a lower-level of competition at FIU. He was taken by the Jets at No. 125.

Fromm was finally selected with the 167th pick by the Buffalo Bills, where he will back up Josh Allen. Fromm, who declared as a junior this year, had the option to return to Georgia as a senior. Instead, he entered the draft and became a fifth-round pick.

When Fromm announced he was declaring for the draft in January, it was a bit of a surprise.

The Bulldog QB has been a starter in Athens for three straight seasons. He took over for the injured Eason early in 2017 as a true freshman, and led the Dawgs to a national championship game as a true freshman.

Fromm’s best season statistically was in 2018, when he completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 2,749 yards, 30 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. In 2019 his numbers dipped a little — he completed a career-low 60.8 percent of his passes and 7.4 yards per attempt, but he still threw for a career-high 2,860 yards.

These numbers aren’t all that flashy, but Fromm was a steady presence who led the Dawgs to three straight SEC Championship Games, and a playoff and national title appearance. Fromm’s numbers likely wouldn’t have been very far off than what he put up over three seasons if he came back for 2020, so maybe the QB believed there wasn’t much more he could do in a season to improve his draft stock.

At one point early in the draft cycle, that stock was pretty good, when Fromm was getting early-round buzz. In February, draft expert Dan Kadar projected Fromm to go to the Bears in the second round. That quickly died down, however, especially when the NFL Combine rolled around later that month.

His stock had been dropping for the last couple of months.

Fromm’s pre-draft process didn’t go well. At the combine, he had the slowest 40-yard dash (5.01 seconds) of all the quarterbacks who ran it. In the passing drills, he didn’t show off a ton of arm strength, either.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, he didn’t get to make up for this performance. His pro day was cancelled, and he wasn’t able to meet with any other teams in-person ahead of the draft.

The 2020 QB class wasn’t as loaded as some we’ve had in years past, but Fromm was considered to be the fifth- or sixth-best quarterback this year. As recently as April 14, Fromm was reportedly “buzzing” from his various interviews with teams, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport described him as a favorite among NFL coaches.

SB Nation’s Kadar had Fromm as the 109th best player overall in this draft.

Here’s Kadar’s take on Fromm’s free fall:

“It’s not too much of surprise that he fell in the draft. Too often, the draft is about potential and known traits,” Kadar says. “That’s especially true this year after pro days and private workouts were canceled. Fromm is considered a prospect with average size and an average arm. That doesn’t profile well for a quarterback would have excelled in private settings where he can show off his football smarts and sell teams on his toughness.”

As Fromm was still waiting for his name to be called, ESPN’s Louis Riddick gave some insight on why this might be happening:

“Jake Fromm is someone who has a lot of mental horsepower, coaches and scouts have raves about the fact that he’s someone who is extremely smart, someone who can digest a lot of information and translate it to the football field.

“But the fact of the matter is, when it comes to putting the ball where he needs to put it and making all the different kinds of throws under difficult circumstances he doesn’t have the same ability as some of these other quarterbacks. And that ultimately is what is winning out.”

Fromm getting picked by the Bills was a bit of a surprise. He and starting quarterback Allen are pretty much polar opposites in terms of playing styles. Even Buffalo reportedly wasn’t planning on drafting him on Saturday. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said on-air that he spoke with GM Brandon Beane, who said Fromm was “too good to pass up” in the middle of the fifth round. Fromm and Allen are also both represented by the same sports agency, CAA.

Players fall in drafts each and every year, especially quarterbacks. This year is particularly tricky since prospects didn’t get to go on pre-draft visits. We saw this affect the free agency period too — former No. 1 picks Cam Newton and Jameis Winston still haven’t been picked up by teams.

Fromm finally got picked by the Bills, but waiting until the 167th pick to get selected was probably a lot longer than he initially expected.