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2014 NFL Draft: Quarterback hand size and success

How much of a factor to success is hand size for quarterbacks in the NFL?

Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

I came across an interesting article on Rotoworld on Wednesday by Jonathan Bales in regards to quarterback hand size and NFL success. Typically for an NFL quarterback you're looking for a player with hands that measure bigger than nine inches. This should ensure at minimum they can grip an NFL football.

For the 2014 NFL Draft, only Dustin Vaughn and Jordan Lynch have hands that measured under the nine inch threshold.

Bales asserts that height isn't as big a deal in being successful in the NFL as people have made it out to be, rather that hand size shows much more of a correlation to success.

Comparing hand size with height, here's the difference in the r-value (correlation coefficient-the strength of the relationship between x and y) for hand size/height and both AV/season and completion percentage. Basically, I just subtracted the r-value for the hand size correlation from that for the height correlation. If hand size is more strongly correlated with NFL quarterback success and accuracy than height, we'd expect the values to be positive.

Both values are positive, and it's not even that close. There's a much stronger correlation between hand size and both approximate value and completion rate than there is between height and those stats.

This isn't to say that height doesn't matter whatsoever, because it Bales' findings he noticed a trend that the shorter quarterbacks who were successful had functional mobility as well. Bales classifies quarterbacks who are 6'2" and under "shorter". There are some notable quarterbacks who fall under the height requirement or the 9.5" hand size requirement, noting  Michael Vick (8.5-inch hands), Colin Kaepernick (9.13 inches), Robert Griffin III (9.5 inches), Daunte Culpepper (9.5 inches), Aaron Rodgers (9.38 inches), and Tony Romo (8.86 inches) as successful quarterbacks falling either 6'2" or shorter and with 9.5 or smaller hands.

Bales attempted to find a way to place a value on quarterbacks which balances their height and hand size and came up with HS/H*100 (hand size divided by height multiplied by 100). The higher the number, the more value you're likely to get out of the quarterback.

Here's how the 2014 class stacked out, and I rounded up to the nearest whole number on height:

Quarterback Height Hand Size Score Functional Mobility
Blake Bortles 77" 9.375" 12.18 Yes
Teddy Bridgewater 74" 9.25" 12.5 Yes
Johnny Manziel 72" 9.75" 13.5 Yes
Derek Carr 74" 9.125" 12.3 Yes
Zach Mettenberger 77" 9.75" 12.7 No
Jimmy Garoppolo 74" 9.25" 12.5 Yes
A.J. McCarron 75" 10" 13.3 No
David Fales 74" 9.25" 12.5 No
Tajh Boyd 72" 9.625" 13.4 Yes
Jordan Lynch 72" 8.875" 12.3 Yes
Jeff Mathews 75" 10.125" 13.5 No
Stephen Morris 74" 10.25" 13.85 No
Aaron Murray 72" 9.125" 12.7 Yes
Bryn Renner 75" 9.125" 12.2 No
Tom Savage 76" 9.625" 12.7 No
Connor Shaw 72" 9.25" 12.8 Yes
Logan Thomas 78" 10.875" 13.9 Yes
Dustin Vaughn 77" 8.875" 11.5 No
Keith Wenning 75" 10" 13.3 No

What exactly do these scores mean? I can't really tell you. This is more fantasy football type focused rather than actual draft focused, but I found it fairly interesting.  You can read the whole thing here.

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