On Thursday, quarterback measurements took place at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis as a total of 17 passers were taken a closer look at in terms of height, weight, arm length and hand size. And while measurements — or frankly, the combine as a whole — are only one piece of the puzzle that is the pre-draft process, they can help teams further adjust their draft board two months removed from the actual player election weekend.
As is the case with all numbers, of course, they are subject to interpretation depending on the scouts or teams looking at them. When it comes to yesterday’s measurements, we will therefore take a look at them from a New England Patriots perspective. After all, we already tried to build the ideally-sized Patriots quarterback yesterday by looking at 13 passers of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era that were invited to the combine.
The averages of their measurements give us an indication about what the team might be aiming at when looking at quarterbacks:
Patriots quarterback measurements
Some of the features that stood out when calculating the averages were height and hand size. New England under Bill Belichick likes to invest draft picks in tall passers, with Rohan Davey, Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling the smallest players brought in by the team during or after the draft. All three of them were measured near 6’2 — below the average height of 6’3 the Patriots seem to be aiming at.
When it comes to hand size, we discussed yesterday that the team was more willing to invest in passers with hands below 9 inches before 2008. However, the approach changed after neither Kliff Kingsbury (8.50”) nor Kevin O’Connell (8.88”) found success in New England. It would be naive to solely blame their hand size on that, of course, but former Patriots director of player personnel Scott Pioli afterwards alluded to the team consciously making the decision to target passers with bigger hands.
So where does that leave this year’s quarterback prospects? Let’s take a look at their measurements to find out:
Combine quarterback measurements
|North Dakota State
When looking at the Patriots’ averages listed above, we can see that some passers like Missouri’s Drew Lock and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins come very close to their preferred target size. What we can also see is that a number of players on that list might be too short for the team’s liking — not necessarily a disqualifier, but something that will impact how the team views them in their overall grading system.
The most prominent of those players is Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, one of the most polarizing players in the draft. A terrific college quarterback that posted great numbers as a pocket passer despite his deficiency in height compared to conventional NFL standards, New England investing in Murray to back up and potentially succeed Tom Brady one day would be a surprise based on his measurement of 5’10.
Penn State’s Trace McSorley, Washington State’s Gardner Minshew, and North Dakota State’s Easton Stick are also smaller than the aforementioned 13 Patriots quarterbacks previously tracked. One player on the lower end of the spectrum, and the same height as the Davey-Hoyer-Etling trifecta, is Boise State passer Brett Rypien. At a hair below 6’2, he would still fit into New England’s prototype.
The same goes for popular Patriots mock draft targets Will Grier of West Virginia and Daniel Jones of Duke: both are in New England’s target area when it comes to size — not only because of their height: the two, just like Rypien and the rest of the passers mentioned so far, also have hands above the 9-inch threshold New England appeared to have established following Kevin O’Connell’s draft selection in 2008.
In fact, only one quarterback on the list has smaller hands: Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur was measured at 8.88” — the same size as O’Connell eleven years ago. But again, the number will likely not take him off the team’s draft board unless when looked at in a vacuum. However, the team does not do that: it analyzes the entire body of work before placing a player on its board or leaving him off altogether.
Size alone does not make or break a draft prospect’s outlook when it comes to the Patriots. Now, obviously, it seems more likely that the team prefers a quarterback like 6’4 quarterback Ryan Finley over smaller ones like Murray or Minshew — the club’s track record speaks for itself. But if New England and its head coach and de facto general manager have taught us one thing it’s that we should expect anything.