The measurables are pouring in from the NFL scouting combine, where the inspection of the young and the strong goes way beyond the old turn-your-head-and-cough physical.
And for Georgia’s otherwise perfectly proportioned quarterback, Jake Fromm, one disturbing dimension has emerged.
Watching him as intently as I have these past three years win 37 for the Bulldogs, I long suspected his hands were an eighth of an inch too small. I never wanted to hear about silly fake-punt calls or confusion in the secondary in overtime. I’d always tell people that the reason Georgia couldn’t beat Alabama was obvious: Fromm’s mitts needed to be seven millimeters larger. Now that has been verified by the professional appendage surveyors of the NFL.
And by the time the draft rolls around and the various flaws revealed at this week’s combine have been beaten into a coma by all your NFL-obsessed sports networks, you will believe that Fromm actually possesses the hands of a 7-pound Capuchin monkey.
The on-field quarterback drills commence today in Indianapolis, and, why, it will be a wonder if Fromm doesn’t have to use both hands just to get a firm grip on the laces of an NFL football. And, thus, does the two-handed chest pass migrate from basketball to the gridiron.
The hand measurement — taken from the tip of the thumb, across the palm and to the end of the little finger — has become a thing among the quarterback class. And that measurement, like all the others, goes public, as the NFL exposes these kids almost as much as Michelangelo did David. Nothing’s hidden.
A 9-inch hand has been determined to be the minimum for an effective pro quarterback. Don’t know who determined that, but chances are he or she could palm a watermelon. Fromm’s came in at 8-7/8ths inches.
Never mind that Patrick Mahomes’ hand measured only slightly above the magic cut-off mark — 9-1/4 inches. They were still plenty large enough to put a death grip on the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The only real way to react to this revelation is wryly. Hand size? Really? Look, if you don’t think Fromm is going to make a serviceable pro quarterback, just say it. Don’t talk about a man’s hand size; that’s getting just a little too personal. There are plenty of questions surrounding Fromm — considered the fifth-best quarterback prospect in this draft — and his grip is not among the top 5.
His grasp of football no doubt exceeds his grasp on the football, and that should count for something.
Doses of good humor and perspective are the only antidote to combine season. The two prospects caught up in the hand jive seemed to get that, which should only boost their stock.
After the presumptive top draft pick Joe Burrow just barely came in at the minimum 9 inches from thumb to pinkie — the first ripple of negativity to wash up on his shore — he took to Twitter with a hilarious response.
“Considering retirement after I was informed the football will be slipping out of my tiny hands. Please keep me in your thoughts,” he wrote.
Fromm was grilled on his digital adequacy during his meeting with the media at the combine. He seemed to handle that pretty well — if only he handles the ball so adroitly.
“It’s an eighth of an inch away from being the desired 9 inches — no big deal,” Fromm said. “It’s the same hand that went to three SEC championships, you know, a Rose Bowl, a national championship (game) and some Sugar Bowls. So, I think it’s played plenty of football and done well enough so far.”
One canny inquisitor in Indy recalled that Fromm threw for only 35 yards in a downpour against Kentucky last season and wondered if his ordinary paws were to blame.
“I mean, any game where you go in where it’s just pouring rain, I think it’s just tough on anybody. Whether you have an 11-inch hand or you have an 8 1/2-inch hand or a 9-inch hand ... it’s gonna be tough,” he said.
There Fromm rested his case, but not before mentioning that he’d really like to pattern himself after New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. Alas, that will be impossible, as Brees hands measure 10-1/2 inches, and all the football Darwinists would tell you that Fromm can never hope to measure up.
He said he is more worried about his feet than his hands, having spent that past few months trying to clean up some sloppy footwork and technique. You’d think that one of the 150 or so coaches at Georgia might have addressed that at some point last season.
There are those among us who believe that Fromm will be just fine and that he will not have to leave football for a second career as a Lego hand model. The fact that he pushed both Jacob Eason and Justin Fields out of town would seem to indicate he has some manual strength.
If nothing else, he possesses all the qualities to have a very nice, long career as a backup in the NFL, providing he can hold onto the clipboard for any length of time.
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