Tua, Burrow, Fromm may give SEC a 2020 NFL draft to remember
SEC quarterbacks finally are on track for their day to shine in the NFL draft.
The Southeastern Conference, which regularly shows its strength in the draft at other positions, has never had more than one quarterback taken in the first round of the NFL draft. The league hasn’t had a quarterback picked in the first round since Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel in 2014.
That history may soon change.
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Louisiana State’s Joe Burrow and Georgia’s Jake Fromm could make the 2020 draft one to remember for the league’s quarterbacks.
With all the Tagovailoa conversations swirling around the winless Miami Dolphins , he could be the top overall selection.
No Alabama quarterback has been picked in the first round since Richard Todd was the sixth overall selection by the New York Jets in 1976.
Former Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers, the brother of Aaron Rodgers and an analyst for the SEC Network who has worked with Burrow and Fromm at the Manning Passing Academy, said the three top SEC quarterbacks “have proven to be accurate at a level we haven’t seen in a really long time.”
Tagovailoa recently confirmed he has heard the “Tanking for Tua” talk “here and there” and said he takes it as a compliment.
“It’s flattering, but we have a season to worry about now,” he said earlier this month. “Everyone is saying ‘Tank for Tua’ now, but if we end up losing the rest of the season, all our games, they won’t be there saying it then.”
Burrow, widely projected as a top 15 pick, could move close to the top of the draft. Fromm’s first-round status is far less certain.
Burrow is a senior. Tagovailoa and Fromm are juniors who haven’t declared their plans for the draft.
Tagovailoa is recovering from ankle surgery, leaving his status uncertain for the much-anticipated game between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 9.
Rodgers said Tagovailoa’s edge is his ability to “generate velocity” with his passes when his feet aren’t set.
“That is something you have to do at the next level,” Rodgers said, using Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and his brother, the Green Bay Packers starter, as examples.
“You combine that with Tua’s accuracy, that’s why people drool over him,” Rodgers said.
Burrow, who began his career at Ohio State, has flourished at LSU. He is a Heisman Trophy favorite who leads the SEC in passing yards, total offense and 30 TD passes.
“What he does in that system is exactly what he’s going to be asked to do at the next level,” Rodgers said. “It translates extremely well because of how accurate and how prolific he is in the system.”
Fromm will be in the spotlight when No. 8 Georgia plays No. 6 Florida in Jacksonville on Saturday in a game which could decide the SEC East winner.
Fromm needs a bounce-back game following two performances which won’t impress scouts. He threw his first three interceptions of the season and lost a fumble in the Bulldogs’ 20-17 loss to South Carolina on Oct. 12. He passed for only 35 yards in the rain in a 21-0 win over Kentucky two weeks ago.
Georgia left guard Solomon Kindley said Fromm’s demeanor never changed even when the quarterback wasn’t enjoying a showcase-type performance.
“That’s the thing about Jake we love so much,” Kindley said Monday. ”... He just always has a positive attitude and makes sure we’re all on the same page and nobody is divided because if we’re a team divided, that’s when trouble happens.”
Fromm’s skills as a game manager are consistent even when he isn’t posting big passing numbers.
“He’s got everything you want in an NFL quarterback from the standpoint of running the show,” Rodgers said of Fromm. ”... No one in college football does as much as Jake Fromm does pre-snap with what that offense asks him to do, and it translates directly to a pro-style system.”
Rodgers said he doesn’t believe Fromm will be a first-round pick because his arm strength is “is just OK when you look at the type of throws that you have to be able to fit into windows down the field.”
“His accuracy is phenomenal, but the ball takes a little longer to get there,” Rodgers said, adding Fromm throws with “a little more of an arc than most guys do.”
Even if Fromm misses the first-round cut, two first-day quarterback picks would match the SEC’s total for the last nine drafts. Manziel was the No. 22 pick by Cleveland and Auburn’s Cam Newton was the No. 1 overall selection by Carolina in 2011.
AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Tuscaloosa, Alabama contributed to this report.