Combine update: Kenny Pickett officially measured in at 8 1/2”, meaning his hand size increased by a 1/4” since his measurement in Spring of 2021.
As noted below, Michael Vick’s hands measured in at 8 1/2” — so... I guess Kenny Pickett is the next Vick. You heard it hear first, folks.
Unfortunately for Kenny Pickett, the spotlight at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine hasn’t been the 4,308 passing yards, 42 TDs and 7 INTs he posted in the 2021 season. It hasn’t been on the 2021 ACC Championship he brought home to the Pittsburgh Panthers — their first in school history. Questions on whether his breakout fifth-year season was an anomaly aren’t dominating the Combine. The real question on everyone’s mind — is Kenny Pickett’s small hand size a cause for concern entering the 2022 NFL Draft?
Pickett’s last hand size measurement came in the spring of 2021, where he measured out at 8 1⁄4” — ranking in the 0th percentile among quarterbacks. Yep, you read that right — 0th percentile. He’s noted previously that his thumb is double-jointed, making it more of a challenge to get an accurate measurement. Part of his pre-Combine “training” has included hand exercises to improve the “accuracy” of his measurement, but it’s uncertain how much of an effect this will have when it comes down to the numbers.
Though he’s been quick to dismiss concerns heading into the NFL Combine about his hand size, it’s impossible not to wonder if it could impact his performance at the next level. NFL footballs measure 22” around the middle, whereas NCAA balls are smaller, right around 21” for a D1 program like Pitt. Yet still, with a smaller ball to manage, Pickett wore throwing gloves — presumably to help improve ball grip. How have other quarterbacks with small hand measurements fared in the NFL, though?
QBs with small hands — how have they performed?
In the last 20 years, there’s only been one quarterback to measure with a hand size smaller than 8 1/4” — Kevin Davidson of Princeton, who went undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s a small sample size, so let’s widen the net. Only six quarterbacks in that span have measured in below 8 1/2” — Connor Halliday (2015), Alex Brink (2008), John David Booty (2008), Jason Fife (2004), and Kliff Kingsbury (2003).
The most notable name here is, of course, Kliff Kingsbury, but not thanks to his performance as an NFL quarterback. The others didn’t fare so well as NFL quarterbacks, either. Not a single one of these quarterbacks was drafted ahead of the fifth round. Three went undrafted. Kingsbury was the only one of them to attempt an NFL pass, totaling one completion for 17 yards for the New York Jets in 2005. To summarize — it’s not looking good, Kenny.
Recently, there have been some “big” name quarterbacks who saw pre-draft concerns regarding their hand size that seem to be doing just fine. Bengals QB Joe Burrow measured in at 9” ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, while Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes came in at 9 1/4”, and one of these two has been featured in each of the last three Super Bowls.
My small hands are doing alright so far....i believe in ya https://t.co/o0UUwkSeOq— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) February 24, 2020
It does appear, however, that 9” could be the “cutoff” for successful quarterbacks — at least in recent years. Back in 2001, Michael Vick’s hand size measured in at 8 1/2”, but it seems safe to say that a prospect of his caliber may come along once in a lifetime let alone once every 20 years. In the last 20 years, 21 quarterbacks measured in under 9” at the combine, and Brandon Allen is arguably the most successful on the list measuring in at 8 7/8” back in 2016.
Pickett will have his hand size measured at the NFL Combine Thursday, but time will tell if that measurement will impact his stock heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. Whether his hand size will impact his grip on an NFL ball remains to be seen, but if past precedent is anything to consider, he’ll have an uphill battle toward a trip to Canton, Ohio.