Former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow re-wrote the record books in 2019. The most touchdown passes (60) in college football history and third-most passing yards ever (5,671) are two single-season records in the SEC that may never fall, considering the competition and NFL-level talent across the Southeastern Conference. He’s charismatic, confident as hell, and sounds prepared to be the No. 1 overall pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, a bungling franchise just three hours west of his hometown in Athens, Ohio.
There’s hardly anything you can nitpick when it comes to this guy. Then, they measured Joe Burrow’s hands at the 2020 NFL Combine.
The NFL Scouting Combine is a mystery. Year after year, NFL Draft prospects head to Indianapolis after training with track coaches to run laser-timed 40-yard dashes in spandex underpants, catch passes without pads or competition nearby, and tackle padded dummies for the enjoyment of NFL Network. It’s mostly a chance for little-known players to jump off the page and get noticed, as well as for major prospects to interview with NFL coaches and front office personnel.
But sometimes, it just gets ridiculous.
When Burrow’s measurements came in, things looked swell. He stood over 6-foot-3 and weighed in at 220 pounds. But Burrow’s hand measurement — for quarterbacks, this is a “huge” factor in determining how well they can hold the larger NFL football — came in at only nine inches, which set Twitter ablaze. Some even questioned if he’s really a legitimate NFL quarterback because of it.
Joe Burrow’s Hand Size at NFL Combine
For comparison’s sake, former Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon QB Justin Herbert’s hands both measured in at 10 inches, while Georgia’s Jake Fromm came in just a shade under nine inches.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray measured in with 9.5-inch hands in 2019. Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield measured in with 9.25-inch hands the year before. Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky logged a 9.5-inch mitt in 2017. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff’s small hands came in at nine inches flat, just like Burrow.
All of them were high picks, and all are starting quarterbacks in the NFL.
Hand size is the most overrated aspect of a quarterback, and truthfully, it doesn’t come close to telling the truth about ball handling skills, nor does it have any bearing on a quarterback’s ability to sling the rock. Joe Burrow just captured a national championship for the LSU Tigers and won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide. That, apparently, isn’t nearly as important as his 9-inch hands.
But, as the NFL Combine continues to teach us, quarter-inch measurements can make the difference between mid-round and late-round draft evaluations for some guys.
Welcome to the NFL offseason, folks.