And you thought we were done talking about Kenny Pickett’s hand size. Not so fast, my friend. I promise we’ll only spend a minute on and mostly to dispel the notion of it being an issue. According to Pickett’s personal QB Coach Tony Racioppi, concern over Pickett’s lack of hand size was never mentioned by teams during the pre-draft process.
Appearing on 93.7 The Fan With Ron Cook and Joe Starkey earlier today, Racioppi tried to debunk the idea teams were worried.
“The hands thing never came up,” he told The Fan. “Which is not a surprise to me, right? [That’s] number one. Number two. I’ve learned that the media, they play to certain things, right? So people watch shows and click on things which are 100% false and wrong.”
After skipping his Senior Bowl hand measurement, Pickett weighed in at the Combine with 8 1/2 inch hands, among the smallest in recent QB history. The story turned into a headline with every outlet discussing what it meant for his draft stock and NFL success. In what was considered a weak draft class without a headlining, #1 prospect, media outlets fell back on discussions over hand size and Pickett’s ceiling, the two most common knocks against him.
But for Racioppi, he believes it was a non-issue, largely due to where Pickett played and thrived, a cold weather climate like Pittsburgh.
“It’s not like he played in Southern California for four or five years either. 73 degree weather. You guys know as well as I do like he played high school football in New Jersey…Pittsburgh isn’t the greatest weather November on. So I think a lot of those questions were answered.”
Historically, it’s hard to find quarterbacks with Pickett’s hand size and exceptions succeeded for other rare traits like Mike Vick’s incredible athletic ability. But there are recent examples of quarterbacks with similarly small hands who have made it like Joe Burrow, whose nine-inch hands were among the smallest in the 2020 class. After drafting him, Kevin Colbert and the Steelers repeatedly dismissed those concerns, expected for an anti-analytic organization. Not even Big Ben had big hands, coming in under 9 1/2 inches, relatively small given his large frame.
Of course, it’s likely teams did have concerns about it, especially data-driven organizations. But without a way to fix it, there was little reason to talk about it or dwell on it. Guaranteed it showed up in every scouting report as a potential negative, even if Pickett thrived in snowy, cold Pittsburgh.
One number that’s hard to ignore are his fumbles which in totality aren’t a major issue but there’s flaws in Pickett’s carriage of the football, getting loose with the ball and dropping it down and away from his body as he moves around the pocket. Big or small hands, it’ll lead to fumbles as it did in college but if Pickett can improve his carriage, keep his patented two gloves on, and do the things he did at Pitt, concern over his hand size will become a silly afterthought.