QB’s Hands: does Size really matter…?


“He fluttered a few of his deep throws…” So said former head coach Dick Vermeil in our previous article when describing his observation of new QB Kevin Kolb at last week’s ending OTA workouts.  That got me to thinking about Kevin Kolb’s hand size… and also the dumber reason I had noticed in a photo of Kolb that his hands looked small relative to his height (6-4)…

So I went to the archives of NFL Draft scouting reports on Kolb. I found out his hand size is 9 1/4 inches (distance between outstretched thumb and pinky)…Turns out this is an average-size NFL QB hand…probably nothing to worry about.  To compare, McNabb’s hand size is 10 inches…Vick’s is a smallish 8 1/2 inches…

No doubt having a bigger hand could be an advantage to a QB’s grip on the ball in bad weather conditions or when escaping a pass rush…but how much of a factor is hand size really?  Does it really matter to the ability to make a strong deep throw? And just where does “hand size” fit on the list of an NFL scouting report on a QB?

I always turn to BIOTECH BOY for inspiration on questions like these. As usual, he did not let me down:

The Packers’ Brett Favre had his hand measured at 10 3/8 inches, from thumb tip to pinkie tip, during the National Football scouting combine in 1991. Favre’s grip on the ball is so enormous that the thumb and little finger of his outstretched right hand probably would cover almost exactly half the circumference of an NFL football.

Daunte Culpepper’s hand size was 9½ inches at the ’99 combine. Culpepper’s hand measurement of 9½ isn’t extremely low by NFL standards, but for someone his size (6-4, 264), it is. Not only the size but also the unusual shape of Culpepper’s hands was a concern not only for the Vikings but other NFL teams before the ’99 draft. Several sources confirmed that Culpepper has what is commonly referred to as a “web hand.” It’s a hereditary condition in which his fingers don’t separate easily because the skin between them is connected upward toward the knuckles more than normal.

Michael Vick, who stands barely 6-0, has merely an 8½-inch hand. However, Drew Brees, who stands just 6-0½, has a hand of 10¼.

In the ballyhooed quarterback class of 1999 that included Culpepper, Tim Couch’s hand was 9 7/8, Donovan McNabb’s hand was 10-0, Akili Smith’s was 9¾ and Cade McNown’s was 9 3/8.

A list of other quarterbacks and their hand sizes includes Brad Johnson (10 1/8), Patrick Ramsey (10-0), David Carr (9¾), Joey Harrington (9¾), Trent Dilfer (9 5/8), Jay Fiedler (9½), J.T. O’Sullivan (9½), Jake Plummer (9¼) and Chris Chandler (9¼).

One of the largest measures of any quarterback drafted in the first round was the 11¼ of Jim Druckenmiller. He was a bust, as was Heath Shuler (10 5/8 ). David Klingler (9¼) had a small hand and flopped.

P.S……hope this helps…..I also included the Website that I got the above info from and for you to get more info


Well, that was what I was looking for. My conclusion: Kolb’s hands are a tad small for a man his size, but hand size alone will not determine much in his eventual success or shortcoming as an NFL deep threat. Perhaps arm strength and finger strength are the more important variables.
So where exactly does “hand size” place in an NFL Scout’s evaluation of a QB?  My quest for that tidbit led me to the archives of Sports Illustrated, as I was referred there by Scott D. Van Osdol, who runs an E-store that features old SI magazines and covers:

A Top 10 list of what NFL talent evaluators look for when figuring if a college passer has what it takes to succeed at the league’s premier position. Info provided by Sports Illustrated May 1st, 2006 Issue :


#1 ARM STRENGTH : The Redskins overlooked this in drafting Heath Shuler at #3 IN 1994, as did the Bears in taking Cade McNown at #12 in 1999. ” Name the last great quarterback who didn’t have a strong arm,” says former Giants passer Phil Simms. ” I can’t.” In this draft, Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt and Kellen Clemens of Oregon would please Simms.

#2 FOOTBALL IQ : “The most important thing we do in evaluating a quarterback,” says Titans coach Jeff Fisher, “is putting him up in front of our staff, firing questions at him and seeing if he can break down defenses and analyze why he makes certain decisions.” Teams like that Matt Leinart got a head start by studying the NFL game tape last fall while at USC.

#3 ACCURACY : Michael Vick of the Falcons, the #1 pick in 2001, remains vexed by what troubled him at Virginia Tech : a low completion percentage. Vick’s rate is 54.1% , about five points BELOW the league average. That’s two or three completions per game that stops drives.

#4 MOBILITY : Good Vision and nimble feet can make up for sheer speed. The Colts Peyton Manning , the first pick in the 1998 draft, can move in the pocket and avoid rushers well enough.

#5 LEADERSHIP : Tom Brady is a regular at the Patriots’ off-season workout programs. It’s not hard to get full attendance when this era’s Joe Montana leads the way.

#6 TOUGHNESS :  Packers GM Tom Wolf, whom traded for Brett Favre in 1992 and later drafted Matt Hasselbeck in the 6th round in 1998, figured out Favre when, 31 days after stomach surgery, Favre took the field and led his college team, Southern Mississippi, to victory.

#7 RESUME :  Says Saints coach Sean Payton, ” I want to see a winner, a competitor, a guy who plays great from behind, a guy who plays well in big games.” Though Cutler was on a bad Vanderbilt team, coaches believe he raised the play of the Commodores significantly.

#8 MATURITY :  In 1998 the Chargers (drafting 2nd) overlooked such red flags around Ryan Leaf as his skipping his interview with the Colts (who held the 1st pick) at the scouting combine.

#9 PEDIGREE :  ” I love a coach’s or player’s son,” says Eagles coach Andy Reid. “Favre, Hasselbeck, Ty Detmer, Mark Brunell, A.J. Feeley– they’ve had the competitive part of the game pounded into them. They’re going to know what it takes to win.”

#10 HAND SIZE :  No Kidding. Teams want a guy whose outstretched throwing hand measures at least 9 1/2 inches from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger. The Eagles knocked Daunte Culpepper off their draft list in 1999 in part because of his small hands.

Well, thought this was an interesting top ten list worth repeating to those who may have missed it. Alex Smith might be a good example of #10 on this list with Marcus Vick and LenDale White with problem at #8 on this list. Matt Leinart may have been better off dropping to the 10th pick with Arizona as I think there is much more talent on offense than what the Titans have right now. Leinart has good leadership and football IQ but his accuracy and arm strength lack.

Thanks for that, Scott.  Now we know…”hand size” is the 10th-ranked variable on a QB’s scouting report. So my worries about Kolb’s average-size mitts are a minor issue. Hey, if Kolb can fulfill the top 9 variables on the list, the Eagles should be in real good shape at the helm anyway…


Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.