Triggered: Jake Fromm NFL decision could be determined by Tua Tagovailoa Alabama announcement
ATHENS — Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa’s NFL decision on Monday could prove to be another piece of the story in Georgia football’s hunt for a national championship in 2020.
Tagovailoa’s decision to declare for the NFL draft will have a domino effect across college football, but more intimately in the SEC West and the Bulldogs’ locker room, where Kirby Smart and his staff await “The Decision.”
The question: What will Jake Fromm do?
Fromm has been holding out on his decision whether or not to return to Georgia for his senior season while praying and gaining information.
If Fromm returns to Athens, the Bulldogs vault to the top of the list of national championship contenders.
Much like his quarterbacking style, Fromm is taking great care to scan the field, a pre-snap read if you will, before choosing his best option.
Tagovailoa’s decision to go pro would likely move Fromm further down in the quarterback pecking order should the UGA junior decide to come out for the draft.
ESPN analyst Todd Blackledge and Georgia Radio Analyst Eric Zeier — both college football quarterback legends, both NFL draft picks — said the first-round has a special attraction.
It could come down to if Fromm, or his family, become convinced he is a first-round NFL draft pick.
Most current projections are that three quarterbacks will be selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
This year’s quarterback class features LSU’s Joe Burrow as the projected overall No. 1 pick to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Tagovailoa are expected to be the second and third quarterbacks taken.
Then things get fuzzy.
Fromm is projected in a mix that includes fellow former UGA quarterback Jacob Eason, Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts, Utah State’s Jordan Love and Washington State’s Anthony Gordon.
So where does Fromm believe he fits in? What are the agents, and those he consults with, telling the family about Jake’s draft stock?
Business is business
Fromm has a sterling resume that few others in Georgia football history can match.
A 36-7 record under center, an SEC Championship Game victory, a Rose Bowl win, a Sugar Bowl win and three SEC East Division titles.
There aren’t many SEC quarterbacks who can match that.
A three-year starter, Fromm doesn’t figure to get any bigger, stronger or faster than he already is.
Fromm has stayed relatively injury free, exhibiting a quick trigger and the common sense to know when to get down on his scrambles.
Fans might point to his statistics dropping off this season, but the experts know better.
“These last four or five games are certainly not the best Jake has played,” Blackledge said before kickoff at the Sugar Bowl. “But I don’t think it knocks that much luster off what he’s all about.”
The word circulating before the game was that Fromm was hoping for an impressive Sugar Bowl performance that would boost his NFL draft stock.
Fromm was 20-of-30 passing for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns, threading the needle on a TD pass to Matt Landers and dropping a perfect fade pass into George Pickens’ arms.
But he also under-threw Pickens and Demetris Robertson on deep passes, and his pocket presence and ability to elude the Baylor pass rush was not optimal.
Fact is, there’s a large sampling of Fromm’s work out there, and the Sugar Bowl did little to raise or lower his draft stock,
Another fact: Fromm’s NFL combine wouldn’t figure to help him this year or next year.
In terms of size, speed and strength, Fromm is quite ordinary compared to the elite company he would be compared to at the combine.
Fromm will, however, win the interviews — whenever they occur — with his poise, football knowledge and presence.
It would be a push in Indianapolis, at best.
Return to Georgia?
There’s no guarantee Fromm would be able to develop more arm strength, deep ball accuracy or escapability in the pocket with another year at Georgia.
Fromm did, however, improve in his ability to throw off the run from 2018 to 2019. His command of the offense was impressive, even if at times his receivers weren’t.
Offensive coordinator James Coley said Fromm grew sharper, and Zeier said Fromm could direct a “prolific” offense if he returns.
The supporting cast is certainly there for another national championship run.
Fromm knows all about pressure. Amazingly, 41 of Georgia’s 43 games over the past three years have been played with the team in contention for the national championship.
Smart says “Pressure is a privilege,” and that may be why.
Fromm was cool and collected in New Orleans, completely at peace as he explained the power of religion in his life and his comfort within his own skin.
It seems Fromm will not be swayed, either way, by the pressure to win a title at Georgia should he choose to return.
All signs point to “The Decision” circling back to where Fromm believes he would be selected in the draft, hence, the role Tagovailoa’s decision could play in it.
The business end of the decision, should Fromm return, goes back to Fromm’s place in the draft — would it be higher this year, or next year?
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence certainly looks like the first pick off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft, for starters.
Ohio State QB and former Bulldogs Justin Fields might also be a part of the 2021 draft class.
Fromm, like several other Georgia underclassmen, applied for and received a projected draft grade back from an NFL advisory committee.
Fromm chose not to reveal it at the Sugar Bowl — players generally don’t — and he remained mum on the issue since.
As time has passed, Fromm has seen other factors evolve around him, most notably, teammates returning or going pro.
Both of Georgia’s 2018 starting offensive tackles, Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, elected to turn pro early, and so did star back D’Andre Swift.
But then Jamaree Salyer and Cade Mays showed Fromm that with just three weeks of work, they could provide serviceable protection at the tackle positions against an elite pass-rushing unit.
Pickens showed Fromm what he could do when focused and dialed in, and Landers had a couple of impressive plays. Then there’s the UGA recruiting class, filled with elite receivers and a tight end that’s said to be the best at his position coming out of high school in a decade.
Running backs Zamir White and Kenny McIntosh have some work to do before they are mentioned in the same breath as Swift. But there’s a long offseason ahead, and both flashed brilliantly at the Sugar Bowl.
The Bulldogs’ defense appears recharged, too.
Juniors Richard LeCounte, Eric Stokes and Malik Herring announcing they will return to a unit that was hands down the best in the SEC.
Fromm, no doubt, would have a championship cast surrounding him in Athens if he returns.
Underclassmen have until Jan. 20 to declare themselves eligible for the NFL draft. A list of underclassmen approved for entry will be sent to NFL teams on Jan. 24.
The NFL draft evaluation process includes the East-West Shrine Game (select players Jan. 18, St. Petersburg, Fla.) and the Senior Bowl (select players, Jan. 25, Mobile, Ala.).
The NFL combine takes place Feb. 24-March 2 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The University of Georgia will also hold a “Pro Day” combine in March, typically the week leading up to the start of spring drills.
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