The Patriots are expected to take a quarterback in this year’s draft. Despite the team coming out and praising 2019 fourth round pick Jarrett Stidham, reports suggest they are not fully committed to him as their next franchise quarterback. Whether the Patriots are planning to draft a quarterback or not, it’s important that the public thinks they believe in Jarrett Stidham. If they fail to acquire the quarterback they’re targeting in the draft, it’s important that Stidham is confident the team believed in him all along. If the Patriots are targeting a quarterback, it’s important that other teams don’t know that. That renders any support for Stidham at this point in the offseason mute.Ian Rapoport said this past week on the Rich Eisen Show that “the Patriots are going to take a quarterback, probably with a premium pick”. In the aftermath of those comments, rumors have swirled linking the Patriots to Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa, but what about Georgia QB Jake Fromm?
Once considered a top-5 pick, Fromm’s value took a big hit in his last year in college. Georgia’s offense ranked 15th and 13th in college football in points per game during Fromm’s freshman and sophomore seasons, respectively. Last season, they ranked 61st. Fromm’s stats saw a notable decline as well, the most significant of which was a 6.6 percentage point drop off in completion percentage between his sophomore and junior season, but all of this wasn’t entirely Fromm’s fault.
Georgia’s offense took debilitating losses last spring. Fromm’s two starting wide receivers, Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley, both left school and entered the 2019 NFL draft. This made Georgia’s offensive significantly less explosive and much more reliant on running back D’Andre Swift. Georgia just didn’t have the caliber of pass catching threats needed to compete in the toughest conference in college football with the likes of Auburn, Alabama and LSU. Instability could also have played a factor in Fromm’s decline in play, as Georgia switched offensive coordinators prior to the 2019 season. James Coley, the Bulldogs OC in 2019, was replaced after just one season with the job.
Fromm has received the brunt of the blame for Georgia’s offensive struggles last season despite a clear drop-off in offensive skill players and coaching. Certainly Fromm can’t be absolved of all blame, but fans and experts have ignored these other factors and Fromm has gone from being viewed as a transcendent talent to an average-at-best prospect.
Fromm is the victim here, not the culprit.
The player that Fromm was before his junior season is one that would undoubtedly be worth the 23rd overall pick. Fromm was not only drawing comparisons to NFL great Drew Brees during his freshman season, but also a former Patriots quarterback.
“He has some of the same intangibles you see in [Tom] Brady”, was the quote Bleacher Report used to headline a story on Fromm from 2018.
There were some other big losses for Georgia during the spring of 2018 too, a couple of which relate directly to the Patriots. New England took Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel in the first round of that year’s NFL draft. The book is still out on whether either of those were good selections. Isaiah Wynn didn’t look half bad in his second NFL season after missing his entire rookie year with an Achilles injury. Sony Michel, on the other hand, suffered somewhat of a sophomore slump after a solid rookie season that saw him set the NFL record for rushing touchdowns for a rookie in the playoffs. Perhaps New England wasn’t just looking to add Michel and Wynn on their own merit, but also to lay the groundwork for their future franchise quarterback a few years down the road.
Unlikely as that may be, there was clearly something the Patriots liked about that Georgia offense enough to spend two premium picks on players from that unit. It shouldn’t shock anyone if they feel the same way about Fromm. Bill Belichick also drafted a wide receiver in the first round for the first time ever in last year’s draft. N’Keal Harry was placed on injured reserve to start the season and didn’t offer Tom Brady much as a receiving threat in his rookie season, but maybe he was drafted with the idea of the next quarterback in mind.
The Patriots have been accumulating high-end offensive talent in the draft for two straight years, but it wasn’t to help Tom Brady. It was to give their young quarterback of the future a good supporting cast to step into. For Jake Fromm, it would also be one that has a semblance of familiarity.
The opportunity to get an elite quarterback prospect being undervalued due to an unfortunate set of circumstances outside of his control doesn’t come very often. In many ways, the Patriots would be the perfect landing spot for Fromm. The only question that teams have to ask themselves is which Jake Fromm will they be getting? If they trust what they saw in the early part of his college career is the real Jake Fromm, it could mean another 20 years of winning football in New England.
Photo: (Ric Tapia – AP Photo)