Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm officially declared for the 2020 NFL draft this week, adding another talented prospect who the Bears will have no choice but to strongly consider selecting if he's still on the board when they're on the clock at pick No. 43 in the second round.
Fromm will have some believers suggesting he's a first-round player, but his limited arm strength and underwhelming physical traits are more in line with second-round quarterbacks. It's not a knock on his NFL projection; it's just a reality of the NFL draft process.
What Fromm does possess, however, is the kind of experienced resume that Bears GM Ryan Pace suggested was an extremely important variable in quarterback evaluation ahead of the 2017 NFL draft. Pace did an about-face on that theory when he selected Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 pick overall, a decision that at this point seems to be proving his theory that collegiate starts actually do matter when evaluating quarterbacks.
Fromm checks the experience box with 43 starts as a Bulldog, many of those coming in college football's best conference. But there's another important factor at play here: Pace has a history of tapping into the Georgia program on draft day. His affection for the Bulldogs is indirectly connected to Fromm, too.
Look at the facts:
2016 - Pace spends a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) on Leonard Floyd
2017 - Pace spends a seventh-round pick on wide receiver Javon Wims
2018 - Pace spends a first-round pick (No. 8 overall) on Roquan Smith
2019 - Pace spends a fourth-round pick on wide receiver Riley Ridley
See a trend?
The Bears' scouting department has spent a lot of time on Georgia's campus breaking down the Bulldogs' tape. Chicago used two draft picks on Fromm's receivers, which means they've spent even more time evaluating nearly every throw Fromm's attempted since 2017.
Pace was particularly high on Ridley, whom he called a no-brainer selection in the fourth round last year. He said the Bears' front office was shocked to see his name was still on the board. He paid close attention to that Georgia passing game.
This doesn't mean Pace will have the same affection for Fromm, but it does mean he's watched a whole lot of him and should have little doubt about the kind of pro he can be.
And consider this: If the Bears do end up drafting Fromm, he'll join an NFL roster with experience throwing to two of the team's expected five receivers who will be active on gameday. That can't be overlooked. It will make his transition to the NFL much easier; he can focus on building timing and chemistry with Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller while already having the confidence in knowing how and where to target Ridley and Wims.
We're a long way from Pace making a decision on which quarterback he'll add to the depth chart this offseason. It's possible he goes the free-agent route instead of a rookie. But if the draft is his target, Fromm will be high on his list.
First, it was Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa entering the 2020 NFL Draft. Now, another SEC quarterback is entering the draft early.
Georgia’s Jake Fromm is forgoing his senior year to enter the draft. He made the announcement Wednesday on Twitter.
Go Dawgs and God Bless pic.twitter.com/hz0qxJLumE— JakefromStateFromm (@FrommJake) January 8, 2020
In the announcement he addressed Georgia fans.
“This process and decision has been unbelievably difficult, but through much prayer and counsel, I have decided that it is time for me to take on the next challenge in my life and pursue my lifelong dream of playing in the NFL,” Fromm wrote. “It is with both a humbled and excited heart that I announce this.”
Fromm won the starting job as a freshman in 2017 and guided the Bulldogs to their first SEC title since 2005. Georgia lost in the national title game to Alabama that year.
He emerged as a pro prospect by taking Georgia to the title game as a freshman while throwing for 2,615 yards in 15 games with 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Fromm’s numbers improved as a sophomore (67.4% completion rate, 2,761 yards, 30 touchdowns, six interceptions), but 2019 saw a dropoff. Fromm entered his junior season as a first-round prospect, but completed a career-low 60.8% of his passes.
The emergence of Heisman-winner Joe Burrow of LSU, Tagovailoa going pro and Oregon’s Justin Herbert being in this draft class makes for a crowded quarterback pool. Considering the Bears don’t have a first-round pick, they’d have to trade up to get one of those three.
Fromm could be available in the second round or later. If nothing else, Fromm adds one more quarterback to the list that the Bears can pick from if they use an early pick to give Mitchell Trubisky some competition.
The 2020 NFL draft is still more than four months away, but it hasn't stopped draft experts from publishing their early mock drafts. And fortunately for Bears fans, most mock drafts now extend beyond just the first round.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller published a new three-round mock draft Wednesday which has the Bears spending their first of two second-round selections on Georgia quarterback, Jake Fromm. The Fromm pick keeps with the trending narrative that general manager Ryan Pace will look to add competition for Mitch Trubisky this offseason.
Fromm would make a ton of sense for the Bears. He isn't overflowing with physical gifts and may end up settling in as an average NFL starter when it's all said and done, but he'd be a great insurance policy if Trubisky doesn't breakout in 2020. Fromm would provide Chicago with another young and talented option at quarterback who the Bears can insert into the lineup early next year if Trubisky fails.
The problem with this mock selection is that it might never have a chance to come to fruition. Fromm could sneak into the end of the first round and be off the board well before the Bears pick, which right now would be in the late-40's, early-50's.
With their second pick in the second round, Miller has the Bears taking Michigan offensive guard, Ben Bredeson. A veteran of more than 50 starts at guard, Bredeson would provide the Bears with the kind of physical toughness the interior of the offensive line has been missing since Kyle Long's injuries started mounting up.
Chicago isn't about to give up on 2018 second-round pick James Daniels, and Cody Whitehair appears set at center for as long as Trubisky is quarterback. But Rashaad Coward has done little to suggest he's the long-term answer at right guard which makes a prospect like Bredeson a logical target as a potential starter right away.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.