This time a year ago, Kenny Pickett was part of the pre-draft process. And no position gets scrutinized more than quarterbacks. In an uncertain 2022 class that had wildly different rankings depending on who you talked to, it wasn’t clear if Pickett would be the first quarterback taken or the fourth. Throughout draft season, the biggest knock on Pickett has his hand size. Pickett’s first pre-draft stop was the Senior Bowl where he was asked about his reportedly small hands, which only became a bigger story once Pickett declined to have them measured.
Ultimately, he weighed in at the NFL Combine with 8 1/2 inch hands. Objectively, it was a historically poor outlier for the position and be it correlation or causation, not many quarterbacks have had success at that measurement. Pickett downplayed the criticism but behind closed doors, he was trying to improve.
Pickett joined The Pivot with hosts Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder, and Fred Taylor Tuesday and discussed what he did to try and improve his hand size.
“I stretched them out a little bit,” Pickett told the show with a smile. “I was doing some exercises. I was 8 1/2 at the Combine. I got them to 8 5/8 at Pro Day. I was trying everything I could. I was sleeping in a splint to stretch my hand out. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
What Pickett said was true. 8 1/2 inch hands at the Combine, 8 5/8 inches at his Panthers’ Pro Day. So did the exercises work? Maybe. Measurements can slightly vary from place-to-place depending on the criteria, generally measured across from pinky to thumb. What actually matters is Pickett actively trying to make his hands bigger in an effort to quiet the criticism. It’s one of the crazy aspects of the NFL Draft and what players will do to improve their negatives and how far removed the conversation can get from actual tangible football. But it does also speak to Pickett’s work ethic and desire to do everything he can to get better, even if it means going to extreme measures like that.
Ultimately, Pickett was the Steelers’ first-round pick and once drafted, all the pre-draft reports don’t matter. The only thing anyone cares about are results. And after a bumpy start, Pickett and the Steelers’ offense found their groove down the stretch, Pickett leading two come-from-behind wins late in the year.
“It’s something you can’t really control. At the end of the day, I’m just going to go throw,” Pickett said. “I played in the second-coldest game in Heinz Field history and we won in the two-minute drill. So we did alright.”
Pickett ended the backhalf of the season on a high note, taking care of the football and making plays in the clutch. He enters 2023 as the team’s unquestioned starter and leader of a team looking to make the jump in his sophomore season.
While the draft is behind him, Pickett understands the pre-draft process is about hyper-analysis with every imperfection magnified ten-fold.
“Once they find something in the draft process, they’re going to hammer it home until the draft” he said. “You just hear the negatives and not much of the positives.”
Today, no one talks about Pickett’s hand size (besides this question and answer, of course). The only thing that’s focused on is how those hands throw the football. As Mike Tomlin says, we all have a habit of making the simple complex. Pittsburgh didn’t overanalyze it and found their guy in the draft.
You can check out the entirety of their conversation below. It’s well worth your time.