The raging debate over the size of Kenny Pickett’s hands
Sure, the 2022 QB class isn’t the best we’ve ever seen. There’s not a Trevor Lawrence to fight over or a Joe Burrow to trade picks for. But is it really so bad that we have to continue to manufacture drama over poor Kenny Pickett’s hand size?
On ESPN’s Get Up this morning, Mel Kiper said that of the people at the NFL he spoke to about the Pickett hand size debate, including current and former GMs and personnel directors, “not one said it was a significant issue.”
“They laughed about it,” Kiper said. It’s a good sign for Pickett — and perhaps yet another knock on the NFL Scouting Combine, an event that is coming under a great deal of scrutiny for its actual usefulness in determining draft picks and accurately evaluating players, especially with the emergence of pro days at individual schools.
The metrics like 40-yard dash times and bench press reps and, yes, hand size, are nice and neat and give journalists headlines and analysts talking points and coaches clean data, but we can all agree that they’re useless without on-field context. And even with on-field context, those measurements are sometimes given far more weight than they ought to, especially considering that the combine is not geared toward the comfort and success of players, but toward the feasibility of broadcasting workouts for the NFL money machine.
As the former Pitt QB heads to Indianapolis this week after leading the Panthers to an 11-2 season, his hand size may be the biggest (or smallest) quarterback story of the 2022 NFL Combine. Expected to be the first QB selected in the draft, over Liberty’s Malik Willis, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, the looming question of Pickett’s limitations will come to a head (to a hand? Sorry — getting carried away) this week when his hand is finally measured. The Pickett hand-size debate began at this year’s Senior Bowl, when he raised questions after declining to have his hands measured, a standard metric for quarterbacks, and he had trouble with accuracy in the rain with an NFL football during a Senior Bowl practice.
He’s double jointed, which limits his ability to extend his hand flat for proper measurement, but doesn’t accurately reflect his grip when his hand is wrapped around the football. However, we have the context of this measurement readily available to us, making this one of the stupider discussions of this year’s draft cycle. During Pickett’s senior year at Pitt, he threw for more than 4,300 yards and tossed 42 touchdowns. He also gave us perhaps the most legendary play of the 2021 season — the fake slide in the ACC championship game that was almost immediately banned by the NCAA, making it even more legendary.
If the question is about the ability to handle the ball in cold weather, one must simply look at Pittsburgh’s (and the rest of the ACC’s) fall climate. If the question is about a quarterback’s ability to succeed in the league without meeting the ten-inch mark, one must simply look to Joe “Nine-Inch-Hands” Burrow, who, if you needed a reminder, led the Bengals to the Super Bowl last month. After his measurement at the 2020 combine drew negative attention to the future number-one draft pick, he memorably tweeted, “Considering retirement after I was informed the football will be slipping out of my tiny hands. Please keep me in your thoughts.”
Burrow is only the most recent example of countless NFL QBs whose hands didn’t “measure up” and still had successful careers. In the end, it’ll be a rare team that actually cares about this BS, as confirmed by Kiper. Also, the “size matters” myth was debunked by ESPN two years, ago. Nevertheless, this largely useless metric may (hopefully) be another sign of the times for the future of the outdated and overhyped NFL Combine.
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