I know there’s one thing you’re all dying to know and the answer is “yes.” It’s OK to call him “Jake Fromm State Farm.” He’s even currently using it as his Twitter handle. The former Georgia Bulldogs quarterback was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Will he usurp Josh Allen or Matt Barkley? Neither? To the film!
It turns out it was really bad for Notre Dame. That’s because Jake Fromm got the ball to D’Andre Swift with a little room to see what was ahead of him. Taken 35th overall in this year’s draft, one of the first things that jumped off the screen was how much help Fromm was getting from his running back. And it wasn’t just Swift either. An abundance of clean pockets didn’t hurt things either.
So this brings me to a major point going forward. Sometimes an individual player evaluation can be problematic because of the surrounding talent. Fromm is a good case study as he had an embarrassment of riches when it comes to surrounding talent. It’d be an easy chore to make a highlight reel, but the reality is that a significant number of throws were little more than a game of catch.
That doesn’t mean it’s worthless to do film review for a player like Jake Fromm. In my never-so-humble opinion, it just means you put a little more emphasis on how he does in the semi-rare instances he’s in trouble. Under duress, Fromm still knows right where Swift is and gets him the ball over a defender.
Here’s another play with Jake Fromm in trouble. And again he knows where to go. I’d also add that he nails the throw even though he’s unable to step into it. Yeah it’s a shorter throw but it’s still a good sign. Overall, there’s a lot to like about Fromm’s ball placement and accuracy as we see here and elsewhere. Though it’s not a perfect stat, Fromm ended his collegiate career with a 63.3% completion rate, which isn’t too shabby.
There are two important takeaways from this play. The first is that Fromm often telegraphs where he’s going with the ball and worked a lot with a quick-strike style of play in the reviewed games. The next thing to notice is that there’s not a lot of zip on this ball. It allows the defense to close in and get an early tackle. This play should bring back some memories of another quarterback whose names rhymes with Pate Neterman.
And this play will likely remind you of that QB even more. The timing and ball placement are good and should give the receiver a shot at a play in many cases. However the lack of velocity on a telegraphed pass led to a pass break up. There were stark differences in how these kinds of plays went based on Fromm’s opponent. Against Arkansas State (77.3 comp %) they were easy pitches for yards. Against LSU (47.6 comp %) plays like this happened a lot.
Now that I have all Bills fans panicking that we’re about to see the return of the Bait Skeeterman, let’s back off the ledge. I’ve already alluded to a major difference in play style that should prevent, gee I dunno, a game with five picks in a half. The GIF suggests that the sack is a bad thing as Jake Fromm has time to deliver the ball. But hear me out.
Against an LSU team that buried Georgia, there just wasn’t anywhere to throw the ball—so Jake Fromm didn’t. Although Fromm seems to have a similar lack of strength to Rate Meterman, I didn’t notice the tendency to play hero ball. When the play was dead, Fromm generally knew it.
Another major difference is that Jake Fromm throws a nice deep ball. The other guy’s arm was so limited that it removed a lot of passes on the field entirely. Fromm’s playbook should be quite a bit more diverse in available throws.
You might wonder why I chose an incomplete pass. There are plenty of nice ones, including some fun touchdowns. One of the inevitable conversations in football is “who gets the blame” for a bad result. For incomplete passes I ask myself one question: “What would my reaction be if it had been caught?” I don’t know about you, but I’d probably say “Holy **** that was a good pass.”
Using this hypothetical scenario goes a long way in showing how well this ball was delivered by Fromm. Put differently, the sinking feeling you have seeing the receiver drop the ball is a direct result of how good the pass was.
Jake Fromm is a mixed bag as one might expect from a quarterback who lasted into the fifth round. There are a lot of positives. The nice deep ball for sure is good to see. Overall accuracy and ball placement were major positives. He seemed poised in the pocket and made good decisions when pressured.
A few negatives showed up as well, with arm strength being the biggest drawback. The reliance on outclassing opponents with surrounding talent wasn’t a comforting thing to see either. Additionally, a lot of quick reads and pre-planned offense results in an incomplete “grade” when it comes to reading the field and defenses.
Ultimately, there’s little risk in the Jake Fromm selection and plenty of potential reward. If Fromm can translate his best traits to the NFL, he’d be far from an anchor if he hit the field. He’ll have to expand on his existing tools to create a quarterback controversy, which is not an unthinkable suggestion.