This year’s scouting combine provided yet another example of how football is a game of inches, though some, perhaps even a certain Vikings QB, might consider this particular example pretty laughable.
California quarterback Jared Goff, who is vying with North Dakota State star Carson Wentz to be the first quarterback selected in the draft, showed up at the league’s annual meat market last week ready to throw for scouts and get poked and prodded by teams. He knew he might be scrutinized, but he didn’t think it would be over his hand size.
Goff’s hands were measured at nine inches, tied for second-smallest among quarterbacks in this class. That led to raised eyebrows from some scouts in Indianapolis and a few questions from reporters, including one who opened up Goff’s press conference on Thursday by asking him, hopefully jokingly, if he was bullied as a kid due to his “tiny hands.”
“I’ve been told I have pretty big hands my whole life,” the 21-year-old scoffed. “I heard I have small hands yesterday apparently.”
Teddy Bridgewater can probably relate to Goff’s frustration.
Two years ago, at the 2014 scouting combine, Bridgewater’s mitts were also under the microscope after they were measured at 9 1/4 inches (they measure from the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinkie).
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter about your hand size,” Bridgewater said at the time. “The only thing that matters is the [ball] getting completed to wide receivers. And I feel that with my accuracy, my arm strength, my decision-making, the hand size shouldn’t be a factor.”
The scrutiny only intensified when Bridgewater opted to not wear gloves at his pro day, during which he was uncharacteristically erratic. The Vikings, of course, grabbed Bridgewater in the first round anyway.
Speaking with Yahoo Sports at this year’s combine, general manager Rick Spielman explained why small hands aren’t a deal-breaker.
“A guy could have tiny Burger King hands, and — we’ll track him — if he doesn’t fumble, who cares?” he said, referencing this commercial.
Bridgewater has fumbled 11 times in 29 career games.
Oh, and in the three coldest games of his NFL career (Panthers in 2014, Giants in 2015 and the wild-card loss to the Seahawks in January), he had a 99.2 passer rating with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Still, there are some teams that are concerned about hand size with Goff, even after he threw 43 touchdown passes as a junior.
The Browns, who hold the second overall pick and have needed a QB since my colleague Mark Craig was a teenager, might be one of them.
“[Hand size] matters because we play in a division where all of a sudden there’s rain, there’s snow, and it’s different,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “I think guys that have big hands can grip the ball better in those environmental situations, and so we’ll look for a guy that fits what we’re looking for in a quarterback. And is hand size important? Yes, it is.”
And that brings us to Brandon Allen, another 2016 prospect with relatively small hands. According to this interesting piece from FOX Sports that tackled this topic, the Arkansas quarterback tried to use massage to increase his hand size before the combine.
It seems to have worked. Allen’s hands were measured at 8 1/2 inches at the Senior Bowl in late January. This week, they were up to 8 7/8, but they were still the smallest among signal-callers in Indianapolis.
While Allen went drastic measures to address it, Goff doesn’t seem to be worried about hand size. He thinks the concern is comical.
“I’ve played football my whole life and never had any problem with that,” the 6-foot-4 signal-caller said.