One of the most inevitable and overcooked parts of the scouting combine every year is when the quarterbacks are measured and weighed, and Hand Size Twitter gets going. This year, as expected, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett was the unfortunate subject, after he measured thusly:
Okay, So, how rare is that among quality starting quarterbacks? As it turns out, hands under nine inches aren’t usual.
That didn’t affect Vick’s ability to throw the deep ball, as anybody who saw him throw one of those 40-yard “Vick Flick” bangers would tell you. And in Pickett’s case, I’m more concerned with the numbers that matter. On throws of 20 or more air yards in 2021, Pickett completed 38 of 74 attempts for 1,299 yards, 17 touchdowns, five interceptions, and a passer rating of 108.4. And when pressured, Pickett completed 45 of 102 attempts for 570 yards, 10 touchdowns, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 86.6.
As far as weather issues… well, Pickett grew up in New Jersey, and he played at Pitt, so I’m not sure how he hasn’t dispelled those potential concerns. There are adaptive strategies available to shorter-handed quarterbacks. They can wear gloves, which Pickett has done since high school. They can grip the football near the more narrow part of the ball.
I asked our own Mark Schofield, our quarterback expert, and someone who’s done a lot of work on Pickett, for his opinion on this alleged disaster.
“The main things to look for regarding hand size are these, in my mind. First, is there a problem playing in weather? Pickett played his entire career outdoors in Pittsburgh and it did not seem to be a problem for him in the elements. Second, are there ball security issues? I did not see those on tape. Third, are there ball placement issues, or does the ball come out funny, perhaps due to hand size? Again, I did not see a lot of that on tape.”
Neither did I. What I saw was a quarterback who would be comfortable with NFL concepts due to his work with former Pitt and current Nebraska offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, I saw a quarterback who is comfortable with anticipation throws, and second-reaction throws requiring movement outside the pocket. I would compare Pickett to Andy Dalton on the low side, and Kirk Cousins on the high side — he’s not a franchise-defining quarterback, but he’s more than a game manager you have to drag kicking and screaming to wins.
Pickett was asked about this on Wednesday during his combine media session, and he seemed unperturbed — as, apparently, did NFL teams.
“I think the media runs with it more than I’d say NFL teams do,” Pickett said. “There wasn’t much talk about that in all the formal interviews and informal interviews I’ve had so far this week. It is what it is.
Pickett also said that “The big body of work is your tape. There are multiple games throughout your career where people can go watch. That’s your resume. Your tape is your resume. All this other stuff are the boxes you have to check before the draft.”
Well, Pickett had never thrown more than 13 touchdowns in a season before he blew up for 42 touchdowns in 2021. I’d be more concerned about that than I would be about his hand size, based on his tape, but overall, I don’t see on tape what would be an epidemic issue he can’t overcome.
It’s also not as if massive hands make you a great quarterback. The results on that side of the ledger are hit-and-miss, at best.
Joe Burrow had some jokes after his hands were measured at nine inches two years ago.
I still think Pickett is the most NFL-ready quarterback in this class, and his “outed” hand size doesn’t change that. As always, watch the tape if you really want to know what’s going on.