2020 NFL draft: QB Jake Fromm, despite his flaws, cracks our top 70 rankings

Leading up to the 2020 NFL draft, which starts April 23, Yahoo Sports will count down our top 100 overall prospects. We’ll count them down in groups of five and 10 at a time, followed by in-depth reports on our top 50 players. We reserve the right to make changes to players’ grades and evaluations based on injury updates, pro-day workouts or late-arriving information from NFL teams.

Previous prospect rankings: Nos. 100-91 | 90-8180-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. DT Justin Madubuike | 49. CB Damon Arnette | 48. OT Ezra Cleveland | 47. WR KJ Hamler | 46. CB A.J. Terrell | 45. RB Cam Akers | 44. DL Ross Blacklock | 43. OT Josh Jones | 42. DT Jordan Elliott | 41. C Cesar Ruiz

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70. Georgia QB Jake Fromm

6-foot-2, 219 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.82

The lowdown: Fromm spurned Alabama and signed with the Bulldogs as one of Kirby Smart’s first big recruits after taking the Georgia job. Fromm, who replaced an injured Jacob Eason (our No. 87 overall prospect), guided the Bulldogs to the national-title game where they lost to the Crimson Tide in overtime.

Fromm started every game his next two seasons and led the Bulldogs to a 36-7 record (four of seven losses by one score), amassing a TD-INT ratio of 78-18 over his three seasons before declaring early for the 2020 NFL draft.

Despite possessing average to below-average physical traits and skill, Fromm is a mature, mentally advanced passer with outstanding experience in high-pressure situations. He has beaten out more talented competitors at various stages of his career and prides himself on mental readiness and football IQ. He has taken snaps from shotgun and center, and has taken care of the ball fairly well (14 fumbles in 45 career games).

Coaches have praised his businesslike and competitive approach, and teammates gravitated toward his even-keeled leadership. His toughness — see the 2019 SEC championship game, when he took a shot to the knee from LSU’s Grant Delpit and kept fighting — has been singled out by teammates and opponents alike.

Fromm’s ability to manage an offense is strong. He understands fronts, coverages, protections and advanced passing concepts and has the temperament of a coach on the field. However, scouts also have worried that Fromm, who can be his own worst critic, seemed to require reassurance at times last season.

Georgia QB Jake Fromm wasn't able to boost his stock at the NFL scouting combine. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

His play regressed under the play-calling of James Coley in a season where there were myriad wideout injuries, and Fromm endured a five-game span to close out the 2019 regular season where he completed 48.4 percent of his passes or less in each game. 

There have been questions about Fromm’s arm. Although some of those are overblown, Fromm appeared to be gunning his passes with extra velocity during the NFL scouting combine throwing session as a way of assuaging those fears. It backfired, as Fromm’s accuracy was scattershot in Indy.

Fromm’s lack of high-end arm talent, limited athleticism (poor combine testing) and small physique (including 8 7/8-inch hands that are below the 9-inch threshold some teams have for the position) will limit his appeal and reduce the number of teams that could draft him. On top of that, his completion percentage and yards per attempt took noticeable dips last season, suggesting a regression, even if the conditions were less than ideal at times last season. 

This was still a Georgia offense that featured a high-caliber offensive line (three certain 2020 draft picks), a first-round talent at running back (and a draftable backup), plus a draftable receiver and tight end. Fromm’s nightmarish performance against South Carolina was a big red flag for evaluators, even with all the quality film he produced in three years.

There’s an Andy Dalton quality to Fromm’s game, and that’s not a bad thing. Dalton was a rookie starter, has a lower INT rate than Philip Rivers since 2011 and is one of only nine QBs since then to top 30,000 passing yards. But Dalton has a clear ceiling, and Fromm will always be a middle-to-lower-end starter once he gets that shot, even if he outlasts a QB or two drafted ahead of him for career longevity.

By the numbers: Fromm had two career games with more than 300 pass yards, 16 games between 200 and 299 yards, 25 games between 100 and 199 pass yards and two games with fewer than 100 yards.

Interesting fact: Fromm, who turns 22 in August, has been in the spotlight for more than half his young life. He first met the public eye at age 11 when Fromm was one of the leaders of the Warner Robins (Georgia) team that made it to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in the Little League World Series. Fromm hit three home runs and had eight RBIs, and struck out 11 as a pitcher.

Fromm also hit two home runs in his final high-school baseball game to deliver Houston County a state title. He later was featured in the Netflix documentary “QB1: Beyond the Lights” alongside other Class of 2017 QB recruits Tate Martell and Tavyon Bowers.

Fromm also has younger twin brothers who play college football — Tyler, a tight end at Auburn, and Dylan, a QB at Mercer.

Draft range: Rounds 2 or 3

69. Ohio State LB Malik Harrison

6-foot-3, 247 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.82

The lowdown: The Columbus, Ohio native is a former high school quarterback (and safety and punter) who wanted to play wide receiver at Ohio State. The Buckeyes moved him to linebacker, and the move paid off as Harrison contributed as a reserve his first two seasons and developed into an honorable mention and first-team All-Big Ten defender in his final two years, respectively.

Harrison carries his big, athletic frame (height, weight, arm length and hand size all well above average for off-ball linebackers) and moved surprisingly well at the scouting combine with strong testing numbers in the 40-yard dash, broad and high jumps, and 3-cone drill. That athleticism has translated to the tape, too, with Harrison flying around the field and making impact plays.

His development the past two seasons has been rapid, and he rates as one of the best run-defending linebackers in this class. Harrison has keen instincts, plays with an aggressive and downhill approach and disengages well from blockers. He seeks to disrupt and can deliver game-changing hits — just ask Florida Atlantic tight end Harrison Bryant, Michigan State running back Anthony Williams Jr. or Michigan QB Shea Patterson how much pop Harrison delivers.

The questions about Harrison’s coverage ability are legitimate. The more he was asked to drop in zone or cover backs and tight ends, the more he was exposed against higher-end talent down the stretch. The Clemson game is a good example of that. Biting on play-action fakes also remains a problem. 

But watching Harrison bait Utah State QB Jordan Love with a zone-coverage pick on Day 3 of Senior Bowl practices makes us believe Harrison can better harness his athleticism in coverage and grow in this department. He also has been effective at spying athletic quarterbacks, which not all linebackers his size can claim as a strength.

Even though they play slightly different spots, Harrison reminds us a bit of Houston Texans 2017 second-rounder Zach Cunningham, a top-shelf run defender who has improved in coverage, even with lapses in Year 3.

By the numbers: Harrison deflected four passes in 2019 after notching only one pass broken up in his first three seasons combined.

Interesting fact: Harrison was a talented basketball player who averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds his senior season at Walnut Ridge High. And he hasn’t lost his dunking ability since pivoting to football.

Draft range: Top-75 pick, possibly as soon as early Round 2

68. USC OT Austin Jackson

6-foot-5, 322 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.82

The lowdown: Jackson is a polarizing prospect who possesses very good-to-elite physical traits but inconsistent technique and refinement. He was a two-year starter at left tackle in his three-year tenure for the Trojans and a first-team all-Pac-12 pick in 2019 who declared early for the 2020 draft.

At the scouting combine, Jackson displayed some outstanding upper-body strength (27 bench-press reps which tied for third-most among all combine prospects with 34-inch arms or longer), lower-body explosion (31-inch vertical jump, 9-foot-7 broad) and nice speed and burst (5.07-second 40-yard dash, with a 1.73-second 10-yard split). The only drill in which he was below-average was the 3-cone, with a time of 7.95 seconds that placed him in the bottom third of combine OT times over the past 20-plus years.

In games, we’ll note that Jackson appeared to showcase light feet and decent flexibility and agility.

All of those traits showed up in Jackson’s big jump from 2018 to 2019. However, there were plenty of rough moments. In high-profile matchups against NFL-caliber pass rushers such as Utah’s Bradlee Anae, Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara and Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa. Jackson also struggled to react and recover when beaten on initial moves and oversets in his stance, allowing him to be beat inside a lot.

Jackson isn’t an overly physical player, either. He opens up his chest for defenders to control him and can play with too much passivity. In the run game, Jackson can get out into space and lead the way, but he seldom wins with power and prefers to bump and redirect. He’s also guilty of letting defenders control his hands early in matchups. Jackson also can be a bit jumpy, with three false-start penalties in 2019.

There’s still a lot to like about Jackson’s upside, and he’s still very young, turning 21 in August. For where he’s expected to be drafted, Jackson might be pressed into action early and struggle if he’s not given proper pass-protection help and allowed to develop.

By the numbers: Jackson earned pass-blocking grades from PFF of 70 and higher in 10 games last season, which is very good, topping off with grades of 83.7 or higher in four of those games. His three lowest scores of the season came against the aforementioned trio of Utah, Notre Dame and Iowa — Jackson registered pass-block grades of 57.3 or lower in each.

Interesting fact: Prior to the 2019 season, Jackson donated bone marrow to his younger sister, Autumn, who suffered from Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a rare blood disorder that slows the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. The procedure happened last July 9, and 53 days later Jackson was healthy enough to start the Trojans’ opener against Fresno State. 

“That allowed her to fully restart her system, and her body is now producing red blood cells,” Jackson said at the combine. “It was a long process. I had to take the whole offseason to go home and be with her and train on my own. I couldn't afford to get sick. Otherwise the procedure would have been prolonged. I battled back through fall camp and through the season to gain my strength back.”

And the best news?

“She’s doing great now,” he said. “She’s making a full recovery. No symptoms. She had to undergo chemo and her hair is growing back. Doctors say her blood is producing at levels they’ve never seen.

“I just thanked God. It was a miracle and I was glad I could do that for my family. … I feel like everybody would have done it for their little sister or sibling.

Draft range: Top-50 pick

67. Auburn DL Marlon Davidson

6-foot-3, 303 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.83

The lowdown: Davidson chose Auburn over Alabama and established himself immediately as a freshman, earning All-Freshman SEC honors in 2016. He developed into a front-line SEC defender by the end of his junior season in which he made 4.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and three blocked kicks (second in FBS) before returning for his senior season in 2019.

Last season was where Davidson really shined. In being named first-team All-SEC, he tied teammate (and potential top-10 pick) Derrick Brown for the team lead with 12.5 tackles for loss and led the Tigers with 7.5 sacks. Davidson played the base end spot, although that doesn’t appear to be his likely position in the NFL.

Auburn listed Davidson at 284 pounds as a freshman and sophomore and 278 as a junior and senior, but he showed up to the Senior Bowl weighing 297 and 303 at the scouting combine, suggesting the league’s feedback on him was that he needed to bulk up and kick more inside. Last season, Davidson was used mostly as a stand-up rusher on the defense’s right side, but he also spent time with his hand on the ground and lined up opposite opposing tackles.

Teams that mix and match along their defensive fronts will appreciate Davidson’s versatility, and he showed steady growth over his four years both against the run and pass. We don’t expect Davidson to be a top-flight pass rusher in the NFL, and his flash plays in college were limited, but there are a wide variety of schemes that can use his combination of quickness and strength.

Auburn. DL Marlon Davidson finished his career with 51 starts. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

There is some concern about his get-off, as Davidson routinely was one of the last men off the snap last season on Auburn’s talented D-line. He also doesn’t slide as well laterally as most college ends we studied this year, which might prompt the move inside. When his rushes have been stalled, we like that Davidson will get his big paws (10 inches) up in passing lanes, and that could work even better on the interior.

Davidson, who turns 22 in May, reminds us a bit of a Denico Autry clone (albeit a bigger one) and could carve out a role as a valuable second or third defensive tackle who can play outside when needed. He might not be special, but Davidson will make a defense better. He plays with high energy and enjoys the physical nature of the game.

By the numbers: Davidson started 51 games at Auburn — one shy of the all-time mark in program history behind former OT Lee Ziemba.

Interesting fact: Davidson considered entering the draft in 2019, but he wanted to keep a promise to his later mother. Cynthia Carter died unexpectedly on Feb. 23, 2015, during Davidson’s junior year of high school, when it was discovered she had a blood clot in her leg. Carter fell and hit her head just before being transferred to the hospital for emergency treatment. The clot had reached her heart in the ambulance, and she died at age 47.

Davidson made a pledge to honor his mother every day of his life, and he did so in high school by wearing No. 47. Another promise he made to Carter back in seventh grade — when he first had NFL dreams and told his mother he one day would buy her a house — was that he would receive his college degree. 

Davidson honored that pledge and spoke about it at the scouting combine.

“I told her no matter what I’m going to take care of the family,” Davidson said. “Shoot, that’s what I’m doing now; I’m putting the family on my back, and I’m going to continue to do what I do best, and that’s ball.” 

And what it now means to keep that promise?

“It means a lot, man,” he said. “My mother was my rock. I was the baby boy of the house, so everything she did, I did. Shoot, I was like a tick on her and stuff, just walking around with her everywhere she’d go. 

“Just the love that I have for her, and the love that she had for me and everything she instilled in me — to this moment, I feel grateful for it. I’m going to continue to show her and continue to protect the brand, protect my brand, which is my last name. I’m going to continue to show people I am Marlon Davidson, and I’m the best at what I do.”

Draft range: Top-75 pick

66. USC WR Michael Pittman Jr. 

6-foot-4, 223 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.84

The lowdown: The son of former NFL running back Michael Pittman has carved out his own path to the NFL as a receiver prospect following a dominant senior season. Pittman cut his teeth early in his career on special teams while working his way up the depth chart. His development was slowed in part by a serious ankle sprain as a sophomore and a shoulder injury in 2018 as a junior that caused him to miss two games.

Pittman put it all together in his senior season — despite three quarterbacks seeing extensive action — catching 101 passes for 1,275 yards (a 12.6-yard average) and 11 TDs in 13 games, highlighted by a showcase performance against a very good Utah defense. Despite starting QB Kedon Slovis getting hurt on the second play from scrimmage that night, Pittman hauled in 10 passes for 232 yards and a 77-yard score.

Pittman possesses good hands (five drops on 254 career targets), strong route-running skills, a good understanding of spacing, physicality and the ability to bring down contested catches. USC used Pittman on a variety of routes — short, medium and long — and he found ways to make plays all over the field. He excelled on post-corner routes and was very effective on fade routes and skinny posts, or “glance” routes. Perhaps leaning on his father’s DNA as a former running back, Pittman also is a strong runner after the catch, seemingly breaking multiple tackles every game last season.

His play speed is a question, and Pittman appeared to lack an extra gear in the open field and wasn’t able to run past a lot of defensive backs in college. But he ran a good 40 (4.52 seconds) and 3-cone drill (6.96 seconds) at the combine. Over the past 20 years, only 41 wide receivers 220 pounds or heavier ran a sub-4.55 40 and a sub-7 3-cone; nearly 40 percent of those players were picked in the first 65 selections.

His injury concerns must be vetted, and he might always be considered a possession receiver. Pittman, who turns 23 in October, should provide an immediate impact on his NFL team, provided he’s not asked to play outside of his strengths. He also brings the potential to be a gunner or jammer on special-teams coverage units, on a “hands team” and also possibly as a returner (three punt returns for 100 yards, and a 78-yard TD in 2017).

By the numbers: Pittman caught four or more passes in every game in 2019, surpassing the 104-yard mark on five separate occasions.

Interesting fact: Pittman suffered through a stutter as a child, which caused him anxiety at the time, but he worked through it. From first through sixth grade, Pittman left his regular classes to attend speech therapy.

“I guess you could say it was embarrassing at the time, because you're getting kids looking at you and wondering what’s wrong with you,” Pittman told Yahoo Sports at the Senior Bowl. “But I had to do it. I knew I had to. I’d try to come up with words and just couldn’t make my mouth move how I wanted.”

And now?

“Mostly no problem now,” he said. “The [therapy] worked, I think. Every now and then I have a moment or something, but I can usually get through it. I’ve tried to talk a lot [in front of media] just to work through those little moments.”

Draft range: Round 2

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