NFL

How Important Is Quarterback Hand Size in the NFL

Drew Brees hands

Hand size is one physical measurement that NFL teams look for in quarterbacks. Many successful quarterbacks, such as Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, have large hands.

But do all successful quarterbacks have large hands? And do quarterbacks with smaller hands lose control of the ball more often? While it may seem like quarterbacks with larger hands are more successful, the answer is a bit more complicated than you think. 

Is large hand size helpful?

Like many physical traits, there is a lot of debate about the benefits of quarterback hand size. A quarterback with larger hands will have an easier time holding the ball. In theory, this should help quarterbacks play in bad weather. It should also help avoid fumbles. Makes sense, right?

However, the data doesn’t back this up. On average, quarterbacks with smaller hand sizes do not fumble more often. Nor do they perform worse in cold weather.

Clearly, hand size is just one factor that determines how well a quarterback holds on to the ball. Hand strength and how a quarterback grips a ball play a role.

In addition, external factors such as offensive line play can affect the ability to hold onto a ball. A quarterback may lose the ball more often because they have poor protection. Lastly, some quarterbacks are careless with the ball, even when they don’t have small hands.

What quarterbacks have large hands?

Different hand sizes exist among all levels of NFL quarterbacks. Both Brees and Wilson have some of the largest hand sizes of any quarterback in the NFL. Some people say this helps them overcome their short height.

However, this may not be the case. For example, Wilson has one the highest fumble rates for a quarterback. Wilson runs a lot for a quarterback, which increases the chance of fumbles. Are Wilson’s fumbles caused by all the running he does and do his large hands keep him from fumbling more? It’s hard to say one way or the other.

Quarterbacks like Carson Wentz, Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, and Dak Prescott also have hands that measure over 10 inches. All these quarterbacks have made the Pro Bowl. However, Jared Goff, the starting quarterback for the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams, has one of the smallest hand sizes of any starting quarterback.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the league, has hands larger than Brees and Wilson. Paxton Lynch also has some of the largest hands in the league. However, despite being a first-round pick, was released three years into his rookie contract.

How much value do teams place on it? 

Despite the conflicting evidence, NFL teams value hand size. At the NFL Combine, quarterback prospects have their hand size measured. Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway, a Hall of Fame quarterback, once said hand size is something players never look at but is important to general managers.  

Hand size is one of the debates that teams have over quarterbacks. Are certain physical traits necessary for a successful NFL quarterback? Are there other factors that are more important? Or are there minimum physical traits that a quarterback must have? What about a player’s prior tape? With all these factors in play, hand size seemingly isn’t a make or break stat for prospects.

Some team executives believe it’s important. Scott Pioli, a former team executive with the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, thought hand size was really important. During his time with the Patriots, they selected Kliff Kingsbury.

Pioli thought that Kingsbury’s small hands caused problems playing in the NFL and regretted the pick. Other teams, like the Falcons and San Francisco 49ers, have also thought that hand size is important. But that view isn’t unanimous. Teams like the Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals have previously said they don’t care.   

Hand size is one of many factors for an NFL quarterback. While it may affect how an NFL quarterback plays, it is not required for a successful quarterback.