Razorback fans may feel torn on whether Froholdt’s college career was a success or not. On one hand, his four years came during one the least successful stints in program history — the end of the Bret Bielema era and Chad Morris’ first year as head coach.
“Going through all these trials and tribulations and bumps in the road have helped shape me to being the person I am today,” Froholdt said. “I don’t like losing — I don’t accept it even though we only won six games the past two years. It made me strive to be even better every day.”
That’s definitely a glass half-full way to look at it. Froholdt and Hog fans can also feel pride in his individual accomplishments. He seemed to improve each season by his senior year was a second-team All-SEC performer, so good that Pro Football Focus rated him as the SEC’s top interior lineman in pass blocking.
On top of this, Pro Football Focus rated Froholdt as the fourth-best interior lineman in the 2019 draft, after he allowed only five quarterback pressures and no sacks. Of the 815 snaps he totaled in 2018, 440 came in pass protection.
Froholdt believes that his ceiling is higher than for most 22-year-olds because he only played two years of football in the U.S. before starting college. This gives Patriots a lot of hope for his potential in the coming seasons, and is part of the reason that 53% of nearly 2,500 Patriots fans graded this draft pick as an “A” on SB Nation’s PatsPulpit.com.
Here are a few things to know as Hjalte Froholdt begins his Patriots career:
The Early Word On Position
Boston Globe’s Ben Volin reported that Froholdt will likely play center. “I’m told by a source close to Froholdt that the Patriots see him as a center first, and a guard second. Puts Ted Karras in trouble as the backup center.”
Froholdt played on the offensive line for three years as a Razorback, but for only three games as a center (at the start of this senior year). He spent the rest of his college career at left guard.
Is About to Get a Lot Better
Froholdt is heading into a great situation, if he can improve at the NFL level with the same learning curve that he showed at the college level. That’s because the Patriots boast one of the best interior lineman groups in the NFL.
“With Joe Thuney, David Andrews and Shaq Mason manning the interior of the Patriots line for the 2019 season, Froholdt isn’t likely to see significant playing time right away,” writes the Boston Herald’s Steve Hewitt. “But Thuney will be a free agent after the season, and Froholdt should provide some much-needed depth.”
This is a great place to learn the trade from seasoned veterans and a great offensive line coach in Dante Scarnecchia.
The Patriots Love That Versatility
“He can take reps at either the guard spot or center, Pats Pulpit’s Ryan Spagnoli said after the draft pick. “You know how the Pats love those swing linemen. They can plug them in all over the line.”
He operates “with an adequate pad level as an interior blocker — that’s something Scarnecchia really stresses with his guards, is being strong with [their hands].
“Excellent radar, adjusting to targets,” Spagnoli continued. “He can get out and block for screen plays, which obviously the Patriots like to run.”
That ability is on full display below. Just look at this big man move:
But there’s a reason he wasn’t drafted higher…
Arkansas struggled in its running game during the last couple season of Froholdt’s career, in part due to Arkansas linemen’s inability to win enough battles at the line of scrimmage and drive back defenders. Part of the issue was lack of upper body strength and arm length.
“One knock on Froholdt is his short arms — measured at 31¼ inches — which limits him to being an interior lineman. He will need to improve his upper-body strength,” Steve Hewitt wrote. “But he has enough athleticism and smarts — he was named to the SEC Academic honor roll all four years — that Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia can work with as his next project.”
Ryan Spagnoli voices similar concerns: “He struggles to press sometimes, is a little inconsistent at times. He loses some leverage and sustained potential when hands land high and slide off the pads.” Listen to the rest of Spanoli’s analysis by listening to his three-minute instant analysis audio segment here.
Also, make sure to learn more about Froholdt’s youth and college career, his previous ties to the Patriots and why Denmark produces more elite American football players than any other European nation here: