INDIANAPOLIS — If the Bears are cool with sub-nine-inch hands, it's difficult to envision them not being smitten with Georgia standout junior QB Jake Fromm.
Ryan Pace has selected a quartet of ex-Bulldogs — as many as any NFL general manager — over his first five years running the Bears draft, including Fromm's leading receiver in his first and second years starting, Javon Wims and Riley Ridley, respectively.
Pace's biggest draft miss, Mitch Trubisky, was an underdeveloped one-year starter from the ACC whose ceiling the Bears viewed as limitless. However, Trubisky has struggled in the NFL largely because for all of his athleticism, he's equally lacking polish on the mental and instinctual sides of the game. As the Bears' only current quarterback under contract, he should expect a competition for his job in 2020.
Enter Fromm? A three-year starter in the SEC West who led Georgia to three conference title games and a National Championship berth, Fromm, in many ways, is the antithesis of Trubisky. He matched the embattled Bears quarterback's 14 career starts at North Carolina in a gangbusters true freshman campaign in Athens, and started 14 apiece over his next two seasons en route to compiling a 36-7 record and becoming one of the biggest stars in the conference featuring the best talent and brightest spotlight.
Fromm has physical limitations — yes, his 8 7/8" hands are the smallest among this year's combine quarterbacks, and some teams have a minimum nine-inch threshold — and will wow no one athletically, but those aren't his on-field trump cards. Instead, that could be his accuracy and processing speed, the latter of which Bears coach Matt Nagy again reiterated Tuesday is the area where Trubisky has the farthest to go in his development entering Year 4.
He lacks Trubisky's arm talent and mobility, but look at where those traits have gotten the incumbent in the absence of some of the innate QB qualities that make Fromm a potential prospect in Round 2, where the Bears hold two selections (Nos. 43 and 50). Yes, they have other pressing needs that might be more sensible to address here depending on the course of free agency, and Fromm is hardly the only Day 2 prospect with tantalizing intangibles but shortcomings elsewhere. Heisman runner-up Jalen Hurts from Oklahoma, a natural-born leader and athlete but still unrefined as a quarterback, and the latest Air-Raid disciple from Washington State, quick-triggering Anthony Gordon are among the other Day 2, if not Day 3 QB targets that might make sense for the Bears.
Yet it says here that Fromm might be the best attainable QB prospect from this year's draft to potentially execute Nagy's offense early on at a high level The RPOs surely would be scaled back, but Fromm has the vision, anticipation and ball placement that could help the Bears offense progress after last season's regression.
“I would say I probably had as much or more [pre-snap responsibilities] as any college quarterback as far as what I could do at the line of scrimmage," Fromm said. "The coaches really trusted me a lot. I could change a run to a pass, a pass to a run. This play to that play. I was really grateful for the kind of power they gave me with the offense. It was awesome. It was a great learning curve for me. It’s really going to prepare me for this next level and what I can do and how I can communicate.”
There's also this: If he could only select one game film for NFL teams to study, Fromm said it'd be his three-TD, 301-passing yard showing against Alabama in the 2018 SEC title game. Ironically, Deshaun Watson's two elite performances while at Clemson against mighty Alabama weren't enough to compel the Bears to even meet privately with him prior to selecting Trubisky in the 2017 draft.
Pace said Tuesday that he learned a lot from his missteps from his QB miscalculations in 2017 and mentioned one key change since then — the arrival of Nagy, whose "position of strength" is quarterback, where he spent his entire playing career.
One other quality of Fromm's that we can easily envision Nagy and Pace gravitating toward which at times has evaded Trubisky: Confidence. Fromm certainly needed that to
"It’s an 1/8 of an inch away from being the desired 9 inches. No big deal," he said, flashing a big smile. "(They) are the same hands that went to three SEC championships, a Rose Bowl, a National Championship, and some Sugar Bowls. I think I’ve played plenty of football and have done well so far.”
Indeed, and if the Bears truly are preparing to run it back with Trubisky in Year 4, they can't do so without an invaluable insurance policy. Why not Jake (from State) Fromm?