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Brandon Allen and the Hand Conundrum
When most casual NFL fans think of what makes up a great quarterback, they think of height, and literally standing tall in the pocket. They imagine rocket arms, launching balls that might just keep going forever if a receiver doesn’t stop it. Some may consider intelligence or uncanny instincts to be a major factor. All of those are correct, but one other factor that professionals take into account, and one not likely thought of by the general public, is the size of a quarterback’s hand. Brandon Allen, a 2016 NFL Draft prospect, is likely to hear a lot about the size of his hands in the coming months.
Andrew Luck’s hands measured at an even ten inches. Cam Newton came in at just an eighth of an inch less. Russell Wilson has huge hands, measuring a full quarter of an inch longer than Luck’s. On the other end of the scale, Jameis Winston’s hands were considered small at nine and three-eighths inches. This doesn’t bode well for Brandon Allen, who recorded a hand size of just eight and half inches.
Hand size measurements aren’t reliably traceable beyond the past ten years. Reportedly, Michael Vick also had eight and a half inch hands, and he had fumble issues, but other than that, small hands hasn’t led to NFL success.
Allen had a terrific 2016 season as a passer. He put up almost 3,500 yards passing for 30 touchdowns, and had some memorable performances against some good SEC opponents, including a seven touchdown effort vs Mississippi State. He flashed a good arm, accuracy, and good pocket presence in his Senior season, and outside of his hands, could be a mid-round draft pick, perhaps sneaking into Day Two of the process. His small hands will inevitably have an effect though.
NFL defenders are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever, and they’re trained to not only go after opposing passers, but to go after the ball as well. Getting a sack is great, but knocking the football loose and causing a turnover is even better. Quarterbacks with big, strong hands make that just a little bit more difficult. Bigger hands also mean more control over the ball, and potentially more accuracy and thus, more success. The average hand size for NFL quarterbacks is more than a full inch bigger than Allen’s, which should be concerning for him.
Brandon Allen is a good quarterback, and his film confirms it. He has physical ability to go along with good mechanics, pocket awareness, and some of the more subtle skills like ability to manipulate defenses with his eyes. However, that number in the box next to hand size is going to stand out to scouts. Unfortunately, it’s likely to haunt him when draft day rolls around.