Jake Fromm, Buffalo Bills:
You might be saying to yourself: “How does Jake Fromm, a fifth-round pick drafted to be a backup, make this list?”. I asked myself the same thing, as he was nearly skipped over entirely for this list, due to the fact that he is set to backup a third-year QB who led the Bills to a playoff berth just last season (Josh Allen, who looks great in shorts). Yet Fromm’s college pedigree and makeup as a passer makes him an intriguing player to follow at the NFL level, especially as the backup to Allen, who has been a bit fragile and turnover prone as an NFL QB.
Heading into the 2019 season, Fromm was thought of as a potential day one draft pick, following two seasons of competent quarterback play for one of the best teams in college football. In three years as the starter for the Bulldogs, Fromm was as consistent as they came, throwing for 8,236 yards, 78 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions while completing just over 63% of his passes. Across the board, Fromm was a very solid college passer, although his production dips from 2018 to 2019 were quite concerning. Between his sophomore and junior season, Fromm saw his completion percentage drop (from 67.4% to 60.%), as well as his YPA (9.0 to 7.4), Air Yards per attempt (10.1 to 8.1), and his QB rating (from 171.3 to 141.2).
Due to an inconsistent cast of receivers, Fromm’s hype was debunked slowly over the course of his final season with the team, as the narrative around him went from ‘future franchise savior’ to ‘Derek Carr Jr.’. In the blink of an eye, those who once saw Fromm as a young Tom Brady soon came to the conclusion that he was just another ‘checkdown charlie’ from a loaded SEC team. The young signal-caller did little to quell this chatter, looking extremely average during his workouts at both the NFL Combine and UGA’s Pro Day. While many expected his slide on draft day, few could have imagined that it would have been so drastic, with Fromm waiting until day three to hear his name called.
While it’s clear that Fromm is not expected to become the franchise QB for the Bills anytime soon, we have seen time and time again that smart, game manager types like himself can become valuable commodities, often tricking disorganized front offices into signing them as ‘bridge quarterbacks’ (see McCarron, A.J). As a functional passer on a run-heavy Pro style offense, Fromm has the pedigree to succeed in a similar position if called upon in the NFL. He’s comfortable under center, a rarity for most college passers, while also showing proficiency throwing into tight windows. In 2019, Fromm was tied for fifth in the nation with only 7 turnover worthy plays, while also accounting for 24 big time throws, a better mark than guys like Jalen Hurts and Jacob Eason.
Fromm is not gonna beat you with his legs, as he is exclusively a pocket passer. Without the threat of running and ability to stretch the field with deep throws, his fantasy upside will always be capped. However, were he to take over as the starter for Buffalo (whether due to an injury to Allen or simply poor play from the former top-10 draft pick) Fromm would be an ideal fit for the team’s offense. With a pair of competent running backs (Devin Singletary and Zack Moss), a trio of reliable receivers (Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, and John Brown), and an offensive scheme that wouldn’t ask him to throw the ball 30+ times per game, Fromm could be a perfect fit for the Bills offense if Allen were to be displaced. While he lacks the size, speed, and arm strength of Allen, he is far more disciplined and accurate with the ball, traits that a winning team loves to have in their starter. On his best day, Fromm may resemble Andy Dalton from the prime days of the ‘Red Rifle’ hype train. On his worst, he may be Chase Daniel, a smart passer who plays extremely conservatively.
The folks over at PFF have compared Fromm to Mitchell Trubisky, a connection that I personally do not see, but one worth exploring:
- Overall Passing Grade: 90.3
- Average Depth of Target: 10.34
- AIR%: 55.0
- Adjusted Completion Rate: 69.7%
- Overall Passing Grade: 85.0
- Average Depth of Target: 10.26
- AIR%: 56%
- Adjusted Completion Rate: 72.3%
While the averages for both players were quite close, Trubisky has displayed some elite rushing abilities in the NFL, while Fromm does not even come close in this regard. Both players are rhythm passers who can look great in pre-scripted sequences while falling apart late in games when asked to improvise. While Trubisky does have one top-15 fantasy finish in his career, I simply cannot see these players finding themselves on the same trajectories (but we do appreciate the analysts who provided these figures for us).
As far as ‘game manager’ types go, passers that have fit this archetype have been hit or miss in this past decade, with guys like Derek Carr and Andy Dalton finding a ton of success while others (Ryan Finley, Trevor Siemian, Colt McCoy) have simply flamed out of starting roles due to their inability to generate offensive production. It’s tough to say which player Fromm will become, especially with the scrutiny he has already come under due to the revelation that he may have some rather racist point of views. Given the current social climate, it’s possible that Fromm may have already botched his chance to become a leader in Buffalo, something that he would need to do in order to succeed as the team’s starter. While you can say that he made a mistake, the fact that he did not apologize until it was public knowledge makes you question his character a bit. There’s a lot more that could be said about this, but unfortunately this piece is about fantasy football, so I’m going to leave it at that.
Ceiling: Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys
Should he earn a starting role for a team, Fromm could easily parlay reliable decision-making and competent clock management into an extended stay as a long term, pseudo franchise quarterback. Like Dalton, he might have some really sharp weeks mixed in with his dull ones, averaging out as a low end QB2 or high end QB3.
Floor: Ryan Finley, Cincinnati Bengals
A college game manager who becomes a less than stellar NFL passer. Extremely limited by weak arm strength and conservative style of play. A career backup.
Median: A.J McCarron, Houston Texans
A great collegiate career parlayed into an extended NFL career as a reliable backup. May start a handful of games but won’t do much of note. Still will be picked up on the waiver wire when scheduled for a spot start and may actually be signed as a bridge QB at some point in his career.