Jake Fromm: NFL combine defensive stars offer views through different lens
INDIANAPOLIS — Jake Fromm took his fair share of hits from the NFL draft analysts at the combine, an event most knew wouldn’t accentuate the former Georgia quarterback’s most positive traits.
“It comes to pass when you are watching him in person that you still wonder, ‘Is there enough there?’ ” NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner concluded during the NFL Network broadcast.
At least one former multiple Super Bowl winning scout believes in Fromm, and Senior Bowl executive director and ESPN analyst Jim Nagy hasn’t been shy with his opinion.
“He doesn’t have the size or the arm strength of a Justin Herbert, but his arm is stronger than I gave it credit for,” Nagy said. “He’s such a quick processor. To watch this guy go through his progressions, he knows exactly where to go with the football …. Jake is so smooth with his eyes, so decisive, he’s very accurate, he has a great feel in the pocket, and he’s mobile enough.”
While Fromm might be ordinary by pro football physical and athletic standards, the mental part of his game rises above many others, and his leadership impressed.
“You watch the film, you see he’s calling the plays, he’s not looking over and checking with the coaches,” said Baylor safety Grayland Arnold, who had six tackles in the Sugar Bowl against the Bulldogs. “He sees it, and he makes the check right then. That was a challenge because we understood that if he checked a play, that if we look over to get a play, we’ve got to be fast, because he could snap it.
“I feel like he’s a pro-type of quarterback. No questions about the arm strength, his intelligence. I like Jake Fromm as a quarterback.”
Fromm was 20-30 for 250 yards with two touchdowns in the 26-14 win over the Bears, though Baylor’s school-record breaking defense sacked him three times.
Notre Dame safety and team captain Alohi Gilman, who had an offseason watching film and preparing for a showdown with Fromm, offered his assessment.
“We knew he was a smart quarterback, he was able to get the ball into the spots and make access throws — he wasn’t afraid to make those throws,” said Gillman, who shared Irish team honors with 8 tackles in the 23-17 loss to Georgia last September.
“The game showed the smarts he had and football I.Q. We did our best to put as much pressure on him as possible and make him a one-dimensional player, and he obviously made some great throws, as well.”
Fromm was 20-of-26 passing for 187 yards and a touchdown against the Irish, and he scrambled twice for 15 yards.
Irish defensive lineman Khalid Kareem said the scouting report was that once Fromm was out of the pocket, his throws wouldn’t be as reliable.
“He has a pretty good offensive line, he sets up pretty deep back in the pocket, he has a lot of time, and our biggest thing was trying to put the pressure on him,” Kareem said. “We knew that once he gets outside the pocket, once he gets a little bit of pressure, he’ll make some wild, crazy throws. So we thought if we could do that, we could win the game.”
By the end of the season, Fromm had proven he could make plays outside the pocket, so teams like Baylor adjusted the plan.
“He’s a smart guy, and he was tough, able to take a hit and he was able to throw the ball and run,” Baylor defensive end and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year James Lynch said. “With him it just wasn’t one thing or the other.
“You had to make sure you were keeping him in the pocket so he wouldn’t run, because he’s mobile. And then also making sure our DBs and our secondary knew he had a good arm. He’s a good quarterback.”
Fromm, however, did not have the same arm strength as other elite quarterbacks who chose to throw at the NFL combine.
Gilman, who faced the nation’s top quarterbacks at Notre Dame, explained there are different types of quarterbacks.
“(Fromm) has to be one of the top guys we’ve played, (but) in terms of arm strength, I feel like I’ve played more guys with more arm strength,” Gillman said. “A guy like Trevor Lawrence can throw the ball all over the field, it doesn’t matter where you are at.
“I call them game managers versus game changers, and some quarterbacks are game managers and they do really well managing the clock and managing their team, and then you have game changers like Trevor Lawrence who can throw all over the field, and he’s like 10-feet tall. So that’s how I separate a manager versus game changer.”
Florida defensive lineman Jonathan Greenard, who had nine tackles in Florida’s 24-17 loss to Georgia last season, summed up Fromm’s quarterback game.
“He controls the game, he never gets rattled, stays within himself, and he understands what he possesses as a player and doesn’t do too much,’ Greenard said. “He’s always going to keep you guessing. If he needs to tuck it and run, he’ll do that a bit. But he’s a very smart guy.
“He’s one of the best quarterbacks I played against, and I played against the top quarterbacks.”
Georgia will hold its “Pro Day” workout in front of NFL scouts on March 18.
The 2020 NFL Draft takes place April 23-25 in Las Vegas.