Ranking all the prospective rookie QBs by hand size

Prospective NFL quarterbacks are judged on a variety of measurements and metrics. One of them is the size of their hands.

J.J. McCarthy, Michigan
J.J. McCarthy, Michigan / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NFL Draft is right around the corner, which means scouting departments are parsing through every shred of information about prospects of interest. The focus for most fans, of course, is the QB position. We could feasibly have four straight QBs coming off the board to start the draft. That would mark the first time ever.

When it comes to evaluating QB prospects, there are several factors at play. Their output in college matters, of course. Efficiency, arm strength, TD-to-INT ratio. Projection also comes into play. Which quarterbacks are the best athletes? How well does QB X move outside the pocket? Can QB Y develop a better arm? A prospect with a strong arm can resolve accuracy issues with time and practice. Generally, a weaker arm is more difficult to overcome, even with tremendous accuracy or poise at the college level. Shoutout to Mac Jones.

Perhaps the most comical of all QB measurements is hand size, but it's a real thing. NFL teams care about how big their quarterback's hands are. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the average QB hand size for draft prospects is 9.7 inches. From 2008 to 2022, there wasn't a single QB selected in the first round with hands smaller than nine inches. That is, until the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Kenny Pickett and his 8.5-inch hands.

We know how that worked out. What is Pickett's primary weakness? A lack of distance and touch on his throws. I'll let you connect the dots.

Hand size can impact how well a quarterback grips the football. It's not always a death knell to have small-ish hands. Joe Burrow and Jared Goff both measure at exactly nine inches. On the opposite end of the spectrum are Will Levis (10.625 inches), Jordan Love (10.5 inches), and Russell Wilson (10.25 inches).

Let's see how the 2024 NFL Draft class shakes out.

Ranking 2024 NFL Draft quarterbacks by hand size

1. Michael Penix Jr., Washington — 10.5 inches
2. Joe Milton, Tennessee — 10.25 inches
3. Bo Nix, Oregon — 10.125 inches
T-4. Austin Reed, Western Kentucky — 9.825 inches
T-4. Kedon Slovis, BYU — 9.825 inches
T-4. Spencer Rattler, South Carolina — 9.825 inches
T-7. Caleb Williams, USC — 9.75 inches
T-7. Sam Hartman, Notre Dame — 9.75 inches
9. Devin Leary, Kentucky — 9.5 inches
10. Jayden Daniels, LSU — 9.375 inches
11. Michael Pratt, Tulane — 9.25 inches
12. Drake Maye, North Carolina — 9.125 inches
T-13. Jordan Travis, Florida State — 9 inches
T-13. J.J. McCarthy, Michigan — 9 inches

Generally, none of the 2024 QB prospects fall into the same category of alarmingly small hands as Kenny Pickett. That is a plus. Still, J.J. McCarthy is notably dead last, in a tie with Florida State's Jordan Travis. It is McCarthy, of course, who is receiving buzz as a potential top-2 or top-3 pick despite limited reps in Michigan's run-heavy scheme.

The hype with McCarthy is centered almost entirely on the idea of upside. He won the National Championship at Michigan, which counts for something. That doesn't mean much, however, when McCarthy has attempted 239 fewer passes over the course of his career than Drake Maye, for example. He simply was not asked to throw as often as his peers, insulated by a stellar offensive line and Jim Harbaugh's focus on the run game.

It's clear NFL teams are willing to overlook the limited sample size, but compounded by smaller-than-average hands and a slight frame, the red flags are... notable. McCarthy made a ton of impressive throws at Michigan and the success rate of consensus top QBs is far from 100 percent. At least one of the Caleb Williams-Jayden Daniels-Drake Maye triumvirate is bound to flop, so maybe the McCarthy pick — whoever ends up making it — looks savvy a few years down the road.

That said, McCarthy as the No. 2 or No. 3 pick would qualify as exceedingly bold, bordering on ridiculous. He is clearly not that level of prospect, at least not compared to his peers. His success will depend largely on situation.

As for the top of the list, Michael Penix Jr. has impressed scouts with his measurements and his Pro Day performance. He comes with major injury concerns, but a smart NFL front office could take the gamble and be rewarded by college football's premier deep ball artist.

We shall see how it all unfolds in a few short weeks.

NFL DRAFT BIG BOARD. Ranking the 10 best QB prospects. Ranking the 10 best QB prospects. dark