ATHENS — Georgia could have a “prolific” offense next season if Jake Fromm returns for his senior season, according to UGA quarterback legend Eric Zeier.
But it’s a big “If,” with Fromm considering his future after receiving his draft grade prior to arriving in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl last week.
Does Fromm declare himself eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft after leading the Bulldogs to a 36-6 record, an SEC title, a College Football Playoff victory and three straight SEC East Division crowns?
Or, does Fromm come back to work with a receiving corps featuring Sugar Bowl MVP George Pickens, Demetris Robertson, Matt Landers, Kearis Jackson and at least four highly rated incoming freshmen receivers?
Georgia has already had three underclassmen on offense declare for the NFL draft.
D’Andre Swift made his announcement on Friday, joining offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, who declared on Dec. 14.
Zeier was once in Fromm’s shoes, as he took over the Bulldogs offense as a freshman and had a decision to make following his junior season.
Zeier came back for his senior season and earned All-American honors in 1994, becoming the SEC’s all-time leading passer at that time.
But the statistics didn’t affect Zeier’s decision, and before he reached it, there were several things he had to consider that Fromm is likely discussing with his family right now.
Fromm was relaxed and at ease leading Georgia throughout the Sugar Bowl preparation. He looked as comfortable and confident as ever in the Bulldogs’ 26-14 win over No. 7 Baylor.
Fromm was 20-of-30 passing for 250 yards and two touchdowns, and he could have had more if not for two dropped passes, including one in the end zone.
Zeier, who has provided expert analysis for the Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network throughout Fromm’s career, took time with DawgNation to discuss Fromm’s season and his pending decision.
What goes into Jake Fromm’s decision?
EZ: “It’s similar to any other player, you’re going to analyze, where do you think you’re going to fall in the draft? By coming back one more year, what kind of lift, what kind of upside, do you have to move yourself and better position yourself in the NFL.
So he’s looking at teams he could potentially go to in a projected draft position. What teams, and do those offenses make sense with the feedback he’s getting versus how much lift can he get by staying and improving.
How would draft stock affect his decision?
EZ: If he gets feedback that he’s going to be a third or a fourth or a fifth-round guy, chances are you’re going to come back for one more year to elevate it. If he’s a first or a second-round guy, and that’s where they’ve got him projected and the teams he’s projected to — there’s no guarantee of any of that — but if it fits his skillset, then there’s an opportunity for him to go. But every player that analyzes that is looking at those same type things.
Did you have that similar decision?
EZ: It was very similar there. I think it’s more refined now than maybe it was when I was coming out, or looking at potentially coming out. I took a look, and I was projected at the time late-third, fourth round kind of position. So for me, it was really easy, and I wanted to come back, as well.
What made it an easy decision for you?
EZ: We had some things to improve on and get better at as a team. It wasn’t a great year my junior year. My senior year turned out not to be a fantastic year, either, but I looked at those same things, and it was a pretty quick and easy decision. For me, I wanted to come back and play that one more year of college football. I would have had to have been one of the first-round guys to even consider it or think about it.
Were you aware of your legacy at the time?
EZ: Not really, it’s just different. When you play, you’re playing for the guys that are in the locker room, and you play to win football games. You play to get to games like the Sugar Bowl, and get in the national championship conversation, and win the SEC Championship, that’s what you play for. All the numbers, that’s the result of a lot of good guys being around you and being in the right schemes. Numbers happen when you do all the little things the right way, and I think the same could hold true with anything you’re doing in life. It’s the small disciplines and the right behaviors, and if you do those every day the results follow. It’s just not what you think about when you’re playing the game. Records are really after-thoughts that you could reflect on later.
What does Georgia offense look like if Jake returns?
EZ: If Jake Fromm finds himself here next year, I think we could have a prolific kind of an offense. I think Jake is that kind of a player. You get another year with George Pickens as he’s growing and developing, and it looks like some of the guys we have coming in — and, albeit, they are young — but there’s a lot of talent it looks like. There are receivers on this team that will continue to get better. We’ve got talent. We’re going to be great on the offensive line, even with the losses we’ve got, we’ll be good. And we’ve got depth at running back as well. I just think another year with these receivers, another year with James Coley calling the plays, and a comfort level growing there, I think the sky is the limit for what this offense can do. Especially if he gets into a rhythm. This year just got sideways a little bit, with receivers out.
Did Jake get a bad rap this season?
EZ: Any quarterback on any team is going to get too much credit and they are going to get too much blame. He has taken the lion’s share of that and he has handled it very well. Jake is one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and he’s one of the smartest quarterbacks in the country. He can make every throw you want to make. We, by design, put him in some of the most difficult positions you could be in throwing the football. When you are asked to go convert third downs time after time after time, and to do it at the level he does it, that’s difficult. Some of the defensive looks we saw this year, it naturally leads itself to a lower completion percentage. We’re not seeing soft zone, where you are throwing quick game, and hitches and curls. We’re seeing press man to man, that you want to take and you need to take shots down the field because of the defensive looks you are getting. But you are not going to complete as many of those, I don’t care if you’re throwing against air, you’re not going to complete as many.
What was the pass game’s biggest issue?
EZ: “If there’s anything, you’re not so much worried about the completion percentage, we didn’t have the kind of explosive plays that you would think we would have. That’s where it is. I don’t get tied up in the completion percentage, it’s more so some of the misses we had, whether it’s dropped passes or guys cutting routes off too short, or if Jake missed. We didn’t have the sort of explosive plays you would anticipate that we would have had. That’s really where, if there’s an area to improve on, it’s how do we become more efficient when we’re trying to throw the football.”
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