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2019 NFL combine: Building the ideally-sized Patriots quarterback

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With quarterback measurements underway at the combine, let’s find out what the Patriots are looking for.

New York Jets v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Teams are looking for different things when assessing players, and quarterbacks in particular. Some value overall athleticism more, others put a higher emphasis on measurements. While the former will be on display on Saturday at the NFL’s 2019 scouting combine, the latter will be tested today: 17 prospects will be analyzed in terms of height, weight, arm length and hand size.

The numbers are no surefire predictor for a player’s success at the next level, of course, but they do give teams more information about potential targets during the draft or the subsequently following free agency period. So what might the New England Patriots looking for? A look at the team’s track record at the scouting combine under head coach Bill Belichick might help us answer that question.

Let’s start by listing the 13 players that were invited to the combine and subsequently ended up in New England either as draft selections or free agency pickups:

Patriots quarterback measurements I

Year Name Height Weight Arm Length Hand Size
Year Name Height Weight Arm Length Hand Size
2018 Danny Etling 6017 222 31.00 9.38
2016 Jacoby Brissett 6031 231 32.25 9.75
2014 Jimmy Garoppolo 6019 226 31.00 9.25
2011 Ryan Mallett 6056 253 34.38 10.75
2010 Zac Robinson 6021 214 31.25 9.00
2009 Brian Hoyer 6017 215 32.00 9.50
2008 Kevin O'Connell 6042 225 34.13 8.88
2007 Matt Gutierrez 6035 232 33.75 9.63
2003 Kliff Kingsbury 6029 213 32.00 8.50
2002 Rohan Davey 6017 245 33.00 9.50
2000 Tom Brady 6043 211 32.75 9.38
Data via nflcombineresults.com

When looking at the table — one that does not include former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel, who was not invited to the combine — we can see that New England consistently likes its quarterbacks on the taller side. Rohan Davey, Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling were the smallest players brought in by the team during or after the draft, and all three of them were measured a bit below 6’2.

While the search for height is a constant throughout the years, the Patriots’ approach towards hand size changed a bit. Before 2008, two of five quarterbacks signed by the team as rookies had hands smaller than 9 inches: Kliff Kingsbury and Kevin O’Connell, both of which currently successful coaches in the NFL, were measured with 8.50” and 8.88” inch hands when they went through the combine.

Neither of the two quarterback found success in the NFL and their comparatively small hands might have been a reason for that, according to former Patriots director of player personnel Scott Pioli. “We asked [Kingsbury] to come to New England in inclement weather and try to throw the football and control the football; where you have someone like Tom Brady, who has an enormous hand,” Pioli told ESPN back in 2014.

Brady’s hands are not the biggest ever brought in by the Patriots through a rookie signing, but they are still noticeably bigger than both Kingsbury’s or O’Connell’s. And after selecting the latter in 2008, it appears as if New England altered its own benchmarks in this area. “You look at the pictures of Tommy holding a football, part of his accuracy is based on his hand size. So things like that, in terms of measurements, they have value,” said Pioli.

Of course, as is the case with other measurements, hand size alone does not make or break and NFL quarterback. Just look at 2011 third-round draft pick Ryan Mallett, whose 10.75” mitts did not help him establish a successful pro career: in seven years in the league, Mallett started only eight games and completed only 55.1% of his pass attempts. Big hands alone are not the hallmark of good quarterback play.

Judging by their track record, however, the Patriots will likely stay on their course when it comes to hand size: if they pick a quarterback this year, he should be expected to have hands larger than nine inches. The other measurements — height, weight and arm length — will likely align equally close to the calculated averages of the 13 players listed above:

Patriots quarterback measurements

Method Height Weight Arm Length Hand Size
Method Height Weight Arm Length Hand Size
Average 6030 226 32.50 9.41
Median 6029 225 32.25 9.38

This brings us to 2019’s draft prospects, a group that includes some notably short quarterbacks in Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Penn State’s Trace McSorley. Neither of which should be expected to be on New England’s draft board when going by the club’s track record. The same goes for players with smaller hands such as Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur: while he is 6’4 tall, his 8.88” hands — the same as O’Connell’s — might be a disqualifier when it comes to the Patriots.

The key word, however, is might: just because the Patriots have a tendency to do something, does not mean they will keep doing it. So even if their ideally-sized quarterback is 6’3, weighs around 225 pounds, has arms with a length between 32.25” and 32.50” and a hand size of 9.4”, the club could very well go in a different direction if sees a player it likes.

After all, as noted above, measurements are only one piece of the puzzle.