INDIANAPOLIS — Jake Fromm had his game face on at the NFL combine on Tuesday morning, showing energy and confidence at the podium while taking on all questions.
The day of Kirby Smart’s emotional embrace and “Don’t ever doubt Jake Fromm” message to his quarterback seems like much longer ago than last November’s win over Florida.
No doubt, Fromm seems supremely at peace with his decision to leave Georgia.
In addition to the power of prayer during the decision process, Fromm revealed he has had guidance from former NFL and Tennessee QB legend Peyton Manning.
“He really kind of helped me with the process to come out,” Fromm said, asked about Peyton Manning’s influence. “He’s been an incredible mentor.”
If anybody could appreciate Fromm’s talent, it’s Peyton Manning, having seen Fromm win three straight over the Vols by a cumulative 122-26 margin.
Fromm shared how much he valued the lessons learned and time spent working at the Manning Passing Academy in his offseasons.
“Having those relationships with the Mannings’, with Peyton and Eli and obviously Mr. Archie, you get a little bit of an insight and you feel like more of a veteran just from talking to them,” Fromm said. “Those guys are incredible and have years of experience, and it’s something that helps your game and gives you confidence going into every week.”
One moment still stands out, Fromm said.
“I think we had a moment, when we’re all behind closed doors, it was kind of a Q & A,” Fromm said, “and I remember taking pages and pages full of notes, on what they were saying and the wisdom they were giving us.”
Smart also had plenty of discussions with his former QB, including a chat involving a modified offense had Fromm returned to pursue a national title.
But Fromm’s mind had moved on to a bigger picture, the bright lights and high dollars awaiting him.
“We talked about, obviously, a few changes,” Fromm said of his discussions about a new offense with Smart.
“But ultimately this is something I decided to do and where my heart was at, and now I’m here, and I wish them nothing but the best.”
The Colts, Raiders and Patriots are teams Fromm confirmed he has already met with, and he’ll be looking forward to meeting with several more the next couple of days.
Lawrence Cager has some advice for teams assessing Fromm’s talents and ability.
“Whatever doubts you have about Jake, they’re probably not correct,” Cager said. “Jake is the best quarterback I’ve played with. His leadership, the way he commands the offense, the way he takes over a team his day-to-day grind is second to none.
“You can’t ask for anything better in a quarterback.”
Fromm believes he’s built for the NFL combine process, ready and willing to compete every day and put his best foot forward.
“You have to be ready and always have your ‘A’ game, this (interview session) is part of the process,” Fromm said, standing behind a podium with dozens of reporters swarming him. “There’s never a down time, you always have to be ready to take on the next challenge.”
Fromm will take part in the NFL combine drills this week and throw on Thursday (TV: NFL Network), at which time he’ll be able to showcase his arm strength.
Fromm is no more concerned with that, than he is his relatively small hand measurement (8 7/8 inches), that on Monday created a ripple.
Looking back at Georgia’s 21-0 win over Kentucky last season, a game that saw Fromm complete 9 of 12 passes for 35 yards amid pouring rain and gusty winds, Fromm said he learned valuable lessons.
“Whether you have an 11-inch hand, or an 8 1/2-inch hand, or a 9-inch hand, it’s tough,” Fromm said. “Games like that are a little bit different. For me going into it, it was whoever made the mistake first.
“It kind of becomes a chess match, and actually I learned so many things throughout that game and in that process, that it’s really going to help me out later down the road,” Fromm said. “I took it as a learning moment and I took it as a positive. I’m ready to move on, and if I get those opportunities again, I’ll be a lot better at it.”
Fromm pointed out there have been plenty other performances for his throwing hand size to be evaluated on.
“It’s the same hands that went to three SEC Championships, a Rose Bowl, a national championship and some sugar bowls,” Fromm said. “So I think it’s played plenty of football and done well enough so far.”
Fromm is not expected to be one of the top performers in the drill work at the NFL combine, particularly the 40-yard dash.
But the Warner Robins product explained some advantages of being an accomplished pocket QB, even as the league moves toward more mobility at the position.
“I’m a guy who really relies on answers,” Fromm said. “I like having answers within the plays and before plays start, and getting out of binds before I get in them.
“I still think I’m enough of an athlete to get out of a couple (binds). You always have to be on your toes and be able to make some plays.”
Fromm made it clear he’s appreciative of his time of Georgia. He understands that scrutiny comes with the territory of playing for an annual title contender like Smart has built in Athens.
Fromm’s advice to the next crop of Bulldogs’ quarterbacks is to embrace the added attention.
“That comes with the job,” Fomm said. “You want all the good, but you also have to be willing to take all the bad with it, as well.
“Cherish every moment of it. I think Steston (Bennett), Carson (Beck and Jamie (Newman) — and D’Wan (Mathis) as well, those guys will really enjoy the process and the moment and really have the ability to play. We’ll see who comes out with that one.”