A month after putting off his hand measurement at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, the moment of truth came Thursday for Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Unsurprisingly, Pickett’s hand size came in at 8.5 inches, marking the one of the smallest recorded measurement of a quarterback’s hand size in NFL history, according to NFL analyst Warren Sharp.
perspective on Pickett's 8.5 inch hands
of 663 QBs w measured hand sizes since 1987, only 9 had smaller than 8.5" hands
there is no QB in the NFL with 8.5" hands
there has been no QB to enter the NFL in at least 5 yrs w 8.5" hands
last successful QB w 8.5" hands was Mike Vick
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) March 3, 2022
Those numbers are rather incredible to look at. Only nine quarterbacks out of 663 ever measured since 1987 had hands smaller than 8.5 inches. No quarterback in the NFL currently with 8.5-inch hands, including none entering the league in the last five years. The last QB with 8.5-inch hands considered successful was a transcendent star in Atlanta’s Mike Vick.
So, there’s certainly hope for Pickett after all, unless you read Twitter and see people already writing him off due to a measurement not meeting a threshold overall.
He’s certainly not going to let it bother him moving forward.
“No, it is what it is. I think the media runs with it more than I’d say NFL teams do,” Pickett said, according to a report from the Associated Press on Thursday in Indianapolis. “There wasn’t much talk about that in all the formal interviews and informal interviews I’ve had so far this week.”
Pickett raised some eyebrows at the Senior Bowl when he declined to have his hands measured. It’s not all that uncommon for prospects to do that, and it actually worked in Pickett’s favor because he reportedly gained half an inch in his hand size due to exercises.
“The reason why I didn’t measure at the Senior Bowl was to have those extra couple weeks,” Pickett said. “Just a common sense thing, having more time to work the exercises. … Whatever it measures, it measures.”
That’s the approach Pickett has to take, because the tape and the experience on the field tells the larger story, rather than some measurement that is plugged into a spreadsheet. Understandably, that small hand size measurement will take Pickett off of some team’s boards, and he understands that. He’s just letting his play do the talking for him, rather than a hand measurement.
“The big body of work is your tape,” Pickett said. “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.”
The good news, at least on the surface, for a guy like Pickett is that some of the more successful teams in NFL history — including the Pittsburgh Steelers — aren’t going to all of a sudden change their stance on the guy due to how big or small his hands are.
Steelers’ General Manager Kevin Colbert spoke at length about hand size and the important part it does – or doesn’t — play in the scouting process from the Steelers’ perspective during his sit-down with local media last week. Colbert, who spent time with the Detroit Lions as the Pro Scouting Director before becoming the Steelers’ Director of Football Operations, used former Pro Bowl wide receiver Herman Moore as an example of why hand size isn’t all the same and can be misleading.
“We do every measurement known. Sometimes, those things are misleading,” Colbert said during his media session, according to the official transcript provided by the team. I always tell the story, when people talk about hand size, Herman Moore was a great receiver that we had with the Detroit Lions. Herman Moore was 6-foot-4, but his hands measured 8 1/2. Herman Moore had great hands. Well, Herman couldn’t spread his fingers, but his fingers were very long.
“So, sometimes we get caught up in that. I’d look at more statistics from a fumble standpoint,” Colbert added. “How did the player lose the ball if he fumbled it? How does he deliver? Does it get to where it needs to get to? We take in as much information as we can, but in general, we’re just going to evaluate the player overall.”
It is worth noting that, according to The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, Pickett fumbled the football 38 times at Pittsburgh over a five-year span.
Joe Burrow was 9" – for a lot of teams, that is the threshold.
IMO, Pickett's smaller hands don't really show with him as a passer (most teams feel the same). Ball security is another story (38 career fumbles at Pitt). https://t.co/gRB3qcGdTS
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 3, 2022
But, as Brugler points out, many teams feel that Pickett’s small hand size doesn’t show up with him as a passer, much in the same way it didn’t with Joe Burrow and his 9-inch hands, which led to an iconic tweet from the Cincinnati QB.
Joe Burrow's response after his hands were measured at 9 inches at the NFL combine Monday 😂 pic.twitter.com/Hitw9w8peT
— ESPN (@espn) February 24, 2020
Everyone knows how that turned out for the future No. 1 pick in 2020. Pickett isn’t on Burrow’s level as a quarterback, but his hand size will not be a deterrent in him being a high first-round draft pick. The tape doesn’t lie.