When it comes to winning football games, the smallest of margins can make the difference. One thing that many football teams obsess over is the size of their quarterback’s hands. With Joe Burrow set to become the number one pick at the 2020 NFL draft, we ask why people care so much about the size of this prospect’s hands.
There is no denying that Joe Burrow had a standout year in his one college season as a starter. With LSU, Burrow broke all kinds of records, and he’s now a shoo-in for the number one draft pick, meaning he’s going to Cincinnati.
There haven’t been many things for people to criticize Burrow for, but is the size of his handspan the one weakness of the young quarterback. Burrow’s handspan measures in a 9 in, which is small by most quarterback’s standards. That may still be larger than most regular people’s hands, but for a quarterback, measurements like that could be make or break.
Teams seem to believe that if a quarterback has larger hands, he will have a stronger grip on the ball. If he has a firmer grip then he might throw the ball with more revolutions, meaning it isn’t as affected by the weather. However, whether any of that actually matters or not is not clear. An argument is also made that players with a smaller handspan are more likely to fumble the ball, but again that is not clear.
Life in the NFL
Burrow isn’t the first quarterback to have smaller hands than what most NFL scouts are looking for. In fact, one shining example of a player whose hands are a very similar size to Burrow’s is Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes’ handspan measures in at 9.25 in, and he is widely regarded as the best quarterback in the league. There aren’t many people who can match Mahomes’ throwing strength, nor can they replicate his ability to throw the ball from awkward angles. So if smaller hands are good enough for the best QB in the league, why are they not okay for Burrow?
When scouting for quarterbacks, most teams are looking for the ideal physical characteristics. Players like Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning are seen as the ideal height because they stand at 6 ft 4 and 6 ft 5, respectively. The theory is that if a player is this height, then he can see above the huddle and find his teammates downfield easier. While these players may be taller, smaller quarterbacks like Russell Wilson and Drew Brees have larger handspans than them. This just goes to prove that hand size or span really doesn’t make that much difference.
It might be something scouts are fixated on, but ultimately the most important attributes for a quarterback is how well they throw, not what size their hands are. Joe Burrow even joked on social media that he was considering retirement after he was told his small hands would make him fumble the ball more.