The nation’s top college football players have assembled in Indianapolis this week for the NFL combine and those who have chosen to submit to the scrutiny will have their minds and bodies measured and assessed in painstaking detail.
Of all the measurables considered important by NFL scouts, our favorite is the size of a quarterback’s hands. That’s right, some guy pulls out a ruler – or something akin to one – and determines how big a QBs hands are because it’s apparently an early indicator into how successful he might be.
We all know the Cincinnati Bengals are salivating over the prospect of taking LSU QB Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. They will watch film and judge his personality in interviews, and unless they are blown away by some unbelievable trade offer, they will toss him the keys in 2020.
Well, we have the first pieces of pertinent information about Burrow’s anatomy: His right arm measures 30 7/8 inches. His wingspan is 74 inches. And his right throwing hand has been measured at nine inches.
Folks, hands down, this is really big news. The NFL gets queasy about QBs whose hands are too small because the ball it uses is bigger than the college ball. They want to make sure that a kid literally can handle it.
Now get this: According to ESPN Stats & Information, the length of Burrow’s hand, from pinkie to thumb, was tied for the smallest among first-round quarterbacks measured at the combine since 2008.
“Considering retirement after I was informed the football will be slipping out of my tiny hands. Please keep me in your thoughts,” Burrow tweeted once he got the bad news.
If you are wondering, Patrick Mahomes was measured at 9 ¼ inches at the 2017 combine.
“My small hands are doing alright so far….I believe in ya,” Mahomes tweeted.
The reason this is apparently a big deal is because Burrow’s hands are smaller than your average Joe. There have been 35 quarterbacks drafted in the first round since 2008. ESPN tells us their average hand size has been 9 7/10 inches.
Here’s where the analytics comes into play. Over the last decade, only three QBs with nine-inch hands have thrown more than 300 passes in league games – Ryan Tannehill, Jared Goff and Chad Henne. And not one of them owns a quarterback rating over 55.
So, if that’s to be believed, the chances of Burrow having great success in the league are comparatively minute. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert, both likely first-round picks, both have 10-inch hands.
You’d think the most important issue surrounding Burrow for the Bengals is whether he’d even be happy playing for them. There have been some reports he’s not crazy about the idea, much like Eli Manning felt in 2004 when it became clear he’d be drafted by the stinky San Diego Chargers.
“Of course, I want to be the first pick. That’s every kids’ dream. I’ve worked really, really hard for this opportunity,” Burrow, who is a Ohio native, told reporters at the combine on Monday. “Two hours, 15 minutes from my house. I could go home for dinner if I wanted to. Not a lot of pro athletes could get to do that.”
Sounds like Burrow doesn’t have a problem at all.
“I’ll play for whoever drafts me,” Burrow said. “I’m just not going to be presumptuous about what they (the Bengals) want to do. It’s the draft. You guys have been covering it for a long time. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Thing is, Burrow had caused some of the previous confusion by saying he felt he had leverage in the situation. He backtracked on that Monday, claiming he was only talking about is approach to the combine.
“The only thing I’ve said is I didn’t want to be presumptuous about the pick,” Burrow said. “So, that’s why I’ve been noncommittal, because I don’t know what’s going to happen. They might not pick me. They might fall in love with someone else. You guys kind of took that narrative and ran with it. There has never been anything like that from my end.
“I’m not going to not play. I’m a ballplayer. Whoever picks me, I’m going to show up.”
Burrow is not expected to work out for scouts this week. But he’ll meet with the Bengals very soon. He said he doesn’t have any specific questions he wants answered about the organization.
“I wouldn’t say there are any concerns. I want to learn a lot about a lot of different teams,” Burrow said. “Through these interviews you just talk ball, and that’s what I enjoy doing. I think we’re meeting with the Bengals in a couple days, and I’m looking forward to just talking ball, seeing what they’re about. Seeing the offense that they run. See how they think about ball. So that’s what these interviews are about. The people and the process.”
So we guess as long as the Bengals don’t mind a QB with a nine-inch throwing hand, Burrow will be in orange and black by the end of April. Small hand, big heart. Which one would you want?