I know, I know. Another “Kenny Pickett has small hands” post. Let’s make it clear – it doesn’t matter anymore. Pickett’s a Steeler, a starter, hopefully their future. And Pittsburgh was crystal clear in nothing they didn’t care if Pickett’s hands were eight inches or ten inches. He played in Pittsburgh, he won in Pittsburgh, he’ll do just fine in the weather.
View this story as one that can be told about all the teams who passed on Pickett and allowed him to fall to #20 for the Steelers. His version of the “did you know the Dallas Cowboys passed on T.J. Watt for Taco Charlton” story?
Pickett appeared on Ben Roethlisberger’s Footbahlin podcast that aired Sunday evening and was asked if he gets tired of the “small hands” narrative used against him. The answer? Yes, duh, and he probably gets tired of answering “do you get tired answering about your small hands?”
On its face, that isn’t interesting. What is more noteworthy is the fact that through the pre-draft process, Pickett was told by some teams he’d be off their draft board if he didn’t measure in with at least nine-inch hands.
“There’s teams that were like, ‘if you’re not at nine, you just get off the board,” Pickett revealed. “And those teams were high. I’m obviously going to do everything I can [to get drafted as early as possible].”
Spoiler alert he didn’t, 8.5 inches diagonally from pinky to thumb, and presumably, he wasn’t considered by those clubs. Hand size is one of those black and white metrics for some teams. Historical data says there hasn’t been many successful quarterbacks with sub nine-inch hands and for clubs who are analytically inclined, he was considered too much of a risk. The Steelers, under then-GM Kevin Colbert, were not one of those analytical teams to the point where Colbert didn’t even realize Pickett’s hands could be a concern until someone brought it to his attention.
As he revealed on The Pivot with Ryan Clark, Fred Taylor, and Channing Crowder, Pickett actually wore a splint at night during the pre-draft process to try and stretch his hands. It worked, at least a little, and his hands from went 8 1/2 inches at the Combine to 8 5/8 inches at his Pro Day. Perhaps a sign that the splint worked, or perhaps he got a home-field advantage from the Pitt measurement (measurements are done by scouts, not the program, so it’s likely the former).
While doing that to gain every inch, or every eighth of an inch, sounds crazy, Pickett says he was willing to do whatever he could to become the best prospect possible.
“If a team comes to you and they’re high on the draft [board], you want to go as high as possible. You’re like, ‘it is what it is. I got to try and do what I can to get there.’ I’ll do whatever it takes. So that’s what I was doing to try to get where I wanted to go.”
Pickett still became the first quarterback off the board but didn’t hear his name called until #20, abnormally low for the first arm to be taken. Compare that to 2023 when three quarterbacks went in the top five alone. And while the hand size conversation won’t be relevant again, he’s now judged off his actual NFL play, Pickett understood some teams are set in the ways and won’t budge their numbers.
“Some guys just have a set thing that if you don’t meet that,” Pickett said, trailing off but implying the team then won’t draft you.”
In hindsight, it’s a silly talking point. Heck, Bryce Young went #1 overall and while his hands are bigger, he looks like a JV Player who just got an emergency call-up to varsity. The NFL’s rigidity is the Steelers gain because they have their starting quarterback, hand size be damned.