Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room examines the value of strategic and timely red-zone quarterbacking from Georgia passer Jake Fromm, a 2020 NFL Draft prospect.
Thirty yards long and fifty-three-and-a-half yards wide, the red zone is the most formidable and least forgiving ground of a football field. Defenses don’t have to cover as much vertical space which accelerates the quarterback’s timeline to identify and act on information unfolding before them.
Still, mobile college quarterbacks with big arms often get away with buying time and squeezing the ball into tight windows in ways that they won’t as often in the NFL. This point is often lost on the public.
They witness the physical prowess of a big, strong thrower with good legs or a statistical wonder lighting up Power Five teams and they mistake the film-based projection of future struggles at a higher level of football as nitpicking. At least that was the case when the big, strong thrower with good legs was the Broncos’ first-round pick Paxton Lynch and the statistical wonder was Cleveland’s top pick, Baker Mayfield.
Effective red zone play that projects well from Saturday to Sunday is a process-oriented endeavor. Does the quarterback spot the optimal leverage points of the defense and act on them in a timely manner?
Can the quarterback effectively manipulate his opponents and get rid of the ball in rhythm? Can he place the ball into the tightest windows where only his target has a chance to make the play?
If the play doesn’t go as planned, can the quarterback make efficient and creative choices and balance this with a sense of timing advanced decision-making to shut down the play and avoid losses?
Show me a strong red-zone passer on Saturdays based on this criteria, and I’ll show Jake Fromm, a prospect with a fighting chance to become an effective starting quarterback on Sundays. Georgia lacks a prolific passing game, but Fromm’s tape reveals a skilled passer who is among the best field generals in college football.
Fromm’s physical tools are good enough to start on Sunday. However, this will often be lost among those who value bigger, stronger, faster, and most productive are the ingredients for a better NFL prospect. What’s also lost on many about quarterback evaluation are the things that separate the best NFL quarterbacks from athletic prospects who wash out in 3-5 years.
Those things Fromm does better than most of this group of passers hoping to earn a phone call this spring from an NFL team.
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