Herbstreit: UGA’s Fromm, Swift among ‘most intriguing’ NFL draft prospects

Georgia tailback D'Andre Swift takes the handoff from Jake Fromm during the first quarter against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game at the Superdome on Wednesday, January 1, 2020, in New Orleans.  Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
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Georgia tailback D'Andre Swift takes the handoff from Jake Fromm during the first quarter against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game at the Superdome on Wednesday, January 1, 2020, in New Orleans. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit sees Georgia’s Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift as two of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s NFL draft.

The college football analyst will be a key figure in the sports network’s coverage of the draft, which opens with Thursday night’s first round.

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Georgia is expected to have at least one player and possibly more selected on the first day. Whether Swift and/or Fromm will be in that group or among those still around Friday is one of the great mysteries heading into this year’s draft.

“Anybody who has heard me talk about Jake Fromm the last couple of years knows that I’m a huge fan of his,” Herbstreit said on a teleconference call with reporters Monday. “… I’m interested to see where he goes and what kind of system he goes to. Whoever gets him is going to be a gym-rat type of guy, and he’s going to be a guy who can do some exciting things.”

Herbstreit said one of the great debates among NFL personnel evaluators is whether Swift is the top running back in this year’s draft. He believes that there is a good argument that the 5-foot-8, 212-pound junior is.

“I think he’s a three-down guy, which is what the NFL is always looking for,” Herbstreit said. “Can he run between the tackles? Can he catch the ball on the perimeter and make people miss? I think those of us who have followed his career know he can be that type of guy. He’s not necessarily a blazer, but he’s incredibly quick and can catch the ball. I think he’s the total package, and I’m interested in seeing where he goes and how he fits in as well.”

Fromm and Swift are among five Georgia underclassmen who have entered the draft. Junior Andrew Thomas, a three-year starter at offensive tackle, is a consensus choice to go within the first 10 picks. Fellow offensive linemen Isaiah Wilson and Solomon Kindley are expected to hear their names called before the fourth through seventh rounds get under way Saturday.

For his part, Swift doesn’t no what to expect.

“I really have no idea,” Swift said during a Facebook live video with DawgNation. “I've talked to so many different teams, I don't know what to think.”

Fromm’s projections are all over the map. The 6-foot-2, 219-pound junior drew a lot of criticism for his performance at the NFL combine in February. As expected, he didn’t test high in drills for size, speed and arm strength. But he has reportedly wowed teams in interviews and evaluation of game-day video, and he recorded the highest Wonderlic grade of all the quarterbacks in the draft.

Herbstreit compared Fromm with Gardner Minshew, who was drafted in the sixth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars last year and ended up starting 12 of 14 games this past season.

“He didn’t check every box as far as how tall he is or how strong his arm is,” Herbstreit said of the 6-1, 225-pound Minshew. “But, next thing you know, you draft him and he’s smart and he picks up the system and then he’s your starter and he’s in there and playing and executing. Jake Fromm reminds me of that kind of guy.”

Fromm departed Georgia after completing 63.3 percent of his passes 8,236 yards with 78 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. But his most impressive stat is his win-loss record, which was 36-7 with an SEC title, three consecutive SEC Championship game appearances, a national championship game appearance.

Fromm had what was considered a subpar performance last season as his completion percentage and explosive-play statistics decreased.

Herbstreit thinks most NFL teams are looking past that.

“I think it was a collective effort as far as they didn’t necessarily have the receiver play they had the previous two years when he was a freshman and sophomore,” Herbsteit said. “They weren’t able to get the ball downfield, and I think that eventually caught up to them. I also think they re-evaluated their offensive coordinator and went in a different direction, which I think maybe will help them moving forward.”

Swift, a junior, was a backup to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel as a freshman but went past 1,000 yards rushing in his sophomore (1,049) and junior (1,218) seasons. Including receiving, he finished with 3,551 yards and 25 touchdowns from scrimmage during his three seasons in Athens.

“You talk to some people, and it’s pretty obvious that D’Andre Swift is the top back in this draft,” Herbsteit said. “Then there’s other people that like (LSU’s) Clyde Edwards-Helaire, some like (Wisconsin’s) Jonathan Taylor, some like (Ohio State’s) J.K. Dobbins. At the end of the day, these teams are going to get on the clock, and they’ve got to pick a running back, and Swift’s the guy.”

The draft starts at 8 p.m. Thursday with the first round. The second and third rounds began at 7 p.m. Friday and the final four rounds begin at noon Saturday.

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