Almost every single season, some sure-fire high first-round pick drops in the draft because of largely superficial reasons. Maybe it's the scepter of character concern (which caused Vontaze Burfict to drop from a potential 1st round pick to an UDFA in 2012), maybe it's height (Russell Wilson was too short to be an NFL quarterback). Maybe it's something as superficial as leg shape and one bad work-out. Every single season, prospects see their draft stock plummet for stupid reasons.
That looks to continue this season. Cal quarterback Jared Goff, who has drawn comparisons to both Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers from NFL scouts, looked like a surefire top ten draft pick heading into the pre-draft process. He still might be a top ten draft pick depending on how situations play out, but prior to the draft process, he looked like the favorite to be taken with the #2 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns. What happened?
Two things predicated the change (albeit slight as of right now) in Goff's draft stock. First, Carson Wentz rode the hype train into the Senior Bowl coming off of an injury that kept him out of nearly the entire season and performed admirably. That's a good reason for him to pick up draft stock. However, Jared Goff's hand size is generating a terribly large amount of buzz at the combine for all the wrong reasons, and his draft stock might suffer because of it. That, my friends, is a superficial reason.
From now until the NFL draft, you will hear analysts obsess over the fact that Jared Goff has 9 inch hands, as measured at the Combine. Yes, statistically there does seem to be some level of correlation between completion rates and hand size; guys with bigger hands tend to generate more completions. However, hand size, in and of itself, does not make an NFL quarterback. Michael Vick had 8.5 inch hands. Tony Romo had 8.86 inch hands. Colin Kaepernick? 9.18 inch hands. Aaron Rodgers measured in at a smallish 9.38. Ryan Tannehill had 9 inch hands, and Derek Carr came in at 9 1/8 inches. While quarterbacks with larger hands seem to be historically more accurate since they are better able to grip a football, small hands do not mean a player is a bad NFL prospect.
Jared Goff reminds me a lot of Teddy Bridgewater right now. Bridgewater was a hot name leading up to the draft process and suddenly cooled off following imperfect measurables and a bad pre-draft workout. Goff was the hot name at quarterback through most of the regular season and cooled off heading into the draft process, especially after showing up with small hands. However, Goff also had a strong workout at the combine, and looked to be a strong passer in drills. He may not slide as far as Bridgewater did in the draft, especially given the fact that there are potentially anywhere from two to four teams that could look at a quarterback in the top 10 spots of the first round.
My point in this post is this. Just because a player doesn't measure perfectly does not mean he is not a good player. Russell Wilson was too short to play quarterback in the NFL, and he's been to the Superbowl twice already (winning once). Ryan Leaf had prototypical size, and he had little success in the NFL. If you are an NFL scout and you are reading this, don't let Jared Goff's hands be the deciding factor in whether you draft him or not. Watch the tape. Good measurables and workouts in shorts mean nothing if a player cannot perform on the field. Bad measureables or a bad workout does not necessarily equate to a bad player. If you want to know whether Goff is a good fit for a football team, stop worrying about his 9-inch hands and focus on his on-field performance. Your front office will be much more successful in the long run.
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