Extra Points
News and commentary from around the Web

The Myth of QB Hand Size

David Fleming on the long-standing myths about quarterback hand size. Forget running backs: hand size doesn't matter is the new hotness. Good news for Joe Burrow.

View Full Article


22 comments, Last at 28 Feb 2020, 10:12pm

1 On the upside, his tiny…

On the upside, his tiny hands make him look as well-hung as Nick Foles.


Which is exactly what a former Patriots scout predicted would happen. "Kliff doesn't want it out there that he's got small hands," the scout said, laughing, "because of the way people equate small hands to something else."

So is everyone in the Patriots' franchise an asshole, or only the ones they put in front of the press?

3 no, it's you

You're blaming a franchise for an anonymous quote attributed to a former employee.

And, really, you have to torture logic to find this offensive.  The Patriots didn't invent the mythological importance of hand size.  That's been around for a long, long time.  But, hey, you saw the word "Patriots" and decided to malign them.

Seek help.

2 if Joe Burrow becomes a bust…

if Joe Burrow becomes a bust will anyone remember that his hands were small? This seems like something of relevance solely around the combine and the draft that then disappears into the ether.

4 thing is...

His hands have been this size all along, while he was putting up monster stats at LSU.  It's not a stat like "height", where one could argue that it matters far more in the NFL than in college.  (An argument that has been debunked many times in recent years.)

7 Alex Smith begs to differ

In reply to by RickD

I've actually read many times about Alex Smith's tiny hands from various internet commenters. So I guess someone will remember.

9 1. No one knows how to…

1. No one knows how to identify good QBs

2. Because #1, teams over-analyze what data they do have

3. Because of #1 and #2, teams suffer from paralysis by analysis.


Basically, teams are looking for something wrong with Burrow, because they have nothing else.

10 I agree with the logic, but…

I agree with the logic, but disagree with Assumption 1.


If there was nothing to the pre draft evaluation process, then there would be no link between where a player was selected and how the player turns out. The evidence does not support this view. 

6 Every offseason writers of…

Every offseason writers of somehundred websites have to recycle every cliche. Every combine measurement myth should be recycled with an article that follows the following structure:
'NFL scouts are afraid of [measurement here] because if would imply a bad result on Sundays, so [insert player name] had this tweet about it. [tweet here].
Agree or disagree paragraph. Never investigate if nfl scouts actually care as the myth says.

11 An excellent question.   If…

An excellent question.   If he has 3, that would be bad as it's asymmetric and might lead to injury vulnerability when knocked backwards.  OTOH, 4 could be a downright boon, as it might well allow the QB to literally bounce back up after being knocked backwards but no doubt this could lead to "was he really down?" controversies all too often.

13 Does QB hand size matter?…

Does QB hand size matter? What do the data say? This article spends a paragraph on that:

The data resoundingly confirms that there is no actual correlation between hand size, fumbles and passing efficiency. Since 2014, there have been several studies that analyzed data from hundreds of NFL quarterbacks and each one concluded the same thing: The hand-size myth is laughable. As USA Today put it: "Hand size has nothing to do with a quarterback's ability to hold on to the football [even in cold weather]. ... Just to drive that point home, the correlation coefficient between the number of letters in the quarterback's name and their fumble rate is six times stronger than hand size." ESPN Stats & Information's own analysis went back through the past 10 draft classes and found that the group of QBs with the smallest hands fumbled at nearly the same rate as QBs with large hands, and, what's more, small-handed QBs had a slightly higher QBR than passers with medium-sized hands.

This paragraph mentions two studies. The ESPN study only gets this one sentence summary, without a link or anything. The USA Today study is linked, and I see at the link that it's a small sample size study which looks at data from only 26 quarterbacks, some of whom had only a season's worth of NFL data. It also makes some curious choices like treating a sack and a rushing attempt as equivalent opportunities for a QB fumble. And it does find a (very noisy and potentially spurious) trend in the direction of a higher fumble rate for QBs with smaller hands (though the cold weather performance correlation goes in the opposite direction). https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/02/nfl-combine-kyler-murray-hand-size-doesnt-matter

So I consider the value of QB hand size to be an open question until somebody can point me to a better study.

16 Yeah, found the data lacking as well . . .

Yeah, found the data lacking as well. They say Rodgers had 1/4" smaller hands than Favre but that still leaves Rodgers with pretty big hands. I don't think anyone was making the argument that you will see statistical improvement/better QBing all the way up, just that smaller hands might be a concern. It's just one factor among many that any reasonable evaluation might use, and might not even be weighted as strongly as other factors. The article didn't really address anything meaningful.

17 I have seen some reports on…

I have seen some reports on the RPM of quarterbacks' throws at the Senior Bowl. High RPM = high rotations per minute = the ball is spinning fast = a tighter spiral. One study idea, for someone who has a big enough data set of RPM numbers, is to see if hand size is correlated with RPM. Do bigger hands help a quarterback get more spin on the ball?

18 I would think that hand size…

I would think that hand size would be most important when evaluating potential receivers. A guy with butterfly nets for hands would be easy to throw to.

19 I vaguely recall

Ricky Williams being tagged with 'small hands' as one reason why the Colts selected Edgerrin James ahead of him.

21 And now James is in the hall…

In reply to by mathesond

And now James is in the hall of fame. I don't care enough to look at their DVOAs but I always felt that Williams was a better player, even after he got kind of fat.