INDIANAPOLIS — If there’s a quarterback in the draft who shares Bears general manager Ryan Pace’s unwavering optimism, it’s Georgia’s Jake Fromm.
Fromm is quick to admit that he doesn’t necessarily look the part of a star NFL prospect. At 6-2, 219 pounds, he appears more like someone you’d see selling produce at Whole Foods than playing on an NFL field. His 8 7/8-inch hand size isn’t optimal, either.
“It’s an eighth of an inch away from being the desired nine inches — no big deal,” Fromm, who met with the Bears at the NFL Scouting Combine, said this week. “[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 pretty good football and have done well so far.”
As a kid, he played in the Little League World Series. As a collegian, he started 42 times in three years for a powerhouse Bulldogs team, throwing 78 touchdown passes and only 18 interceptions.
Despite the résumé, Fromm’s measurables could mean he’s available when the Bears make their first pick at No. 43. Or again at 50.
Three quarterbacks — likely No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow plus Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert — will be long gone before the Bears make a selection. Those likely available when they do include Utah State’s Jordan Love, Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Washington’s Jacob Eason, who transferred from Georgia when Fromm took his job after a 2017 injury. Hurts went to Oklahoma, where he finished second in Heisman Trophy voting last season, after Tagovailoa replaced him at Alabama.
Good quarterbacks — from some of the nation’s best programs — will be available when the Bears draft in April. The question is: Should they bother to take one? And do you trust Pace to make the call?
Pace drafted quarterback Mitch Trubisky, whose struggles last year leave his long-term future with the Bears in doubt heading into free agency. But Pace has had success — at other positions — on the second and third days of the draft.
Besides, the stakes would be different than in 2017. Trubisky was booed at a Bulls game the night after he was picked not because Bears fans were mad at him, but because they couldn’t believe Pace dealt four picks to move up one slot to take him. Taking a shot, even in the second round, is a much different context.
Should Pace draft a quarterback? It would be a hedge against Trubisky’s future. But it’s a must-win year for the GM, and a rookie quarterback can’t help in 2020. He’d likely serve as the third-stringer, presumably behind Trubisky and whomever the Bears sign in free agency to challenge him for the starting job.
Five years ago, Pace infamously said that “it’s a good idea to add a quarterback every year.” While he has shuffled through free agents, he has drafted exactly one in five seasons. In fact, Trubisky is the only Bears quarterback drafted higher than the fifth round since Kyle Orton went in the fourth 15 years ago.
Pace holds the power to buck history in his hands — and in Fromm’s slightly undersized ones, too.