5 takeaways from combine QB workouts

Goff, Driskel impressed while Hackenberg disappointed during Saturday's drills.

| 7 months ago
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

5 takeaways from combine QB workouts


The quarterback position isn’t one that normally fluctuates with combine performance, but outliers on either end of the spectrum can still give teams pause. Here are five guys who showed me something — whether encouraging or disappointing — in Indy:

  1. Jared Goff’s hands are small, but he’s still accurate

The concerns about Goff’s slight frame have been out there for months now, but he added another red flag on Thursday when his hands measured in at 9 inches. That is a popular cutoff point for hand size in the NFL and it doesn’t give you confidence that his fumbling issues (23 career at Cal) will be solved anytime soon. When Goff actually had to throw the ball at the combine though, the hand size issue got put on the back burner. His ball placement was on point in drill after drill and he showed why he finished 2015 as PFF’s highest graded college quarterback.

  1. Christian Hackenberg’s hands are small and he’s still inaccurate

Hackenberg’s hands were also 9 inches despite him having otherwise prototypical size. But unlike Goff, Hackenberg’s hand size might actually affect his ability to throw accurately. Hackenberg egregiously missed on back-to-back post routes against air at one point — a feat you’ll almost never see at the combine. The Penn State QB was our 119th in accuracy percentage (64.0) in the FBS this past season and 87th overall in our grading.

  1. Jeff Driskel is athletic enough to play wide receiver

If you had predicted Jeff Driskel as the most athletic quarterback in this year’s draft class, you have a keen eye. After pacing all QBs with a 4.56 40-yard dash and a 10-foot-two-inch broad jump, Driskel blew away a mediocre field. Now scouts will have to decide if that athleticism, combined with a much improved senior season, is worth taking a mid-round flyer on. Driskel was a mess in 2014 at Florida, finishing with a -4.7 overall quarterback and a 67.2 accuracy percentage. After transferring to Lousiana Tech this past season Driskel improved by leaps and bounds to a +26.3 overall grade and a 71.6 accuracy percentage.

  1. Trevone Boykin is not athletic enough to play wide receiver

After much consternation earlier this year about Boykin switching positions, few teams will have him on their board as a receiver after running a 4.77 40 and posting a 32-inch vertical. That’s a good thing. Boykin has more than enough ability to get a fair shake at quarterback. His ball placement is a bit of an issue, but Boykin consistently flashed talent throwing the ball downfield. He was PFF’s seventh-highest graded quarterback last year and fourth most accurate quarterback on throws 20+ yards down the field (53.7 percent)

  1. Carson Wentz is no Cam Newton, but that won’t matter

There was some buzz about Wentz’ athleticism being comparable to that of the current MVP’s heading into the combine. While his numbers can go head-to-head with some of the tight ends in attendance, they were not all-world like Newton’s. He posted a 4.77 40-yard dash, 6.86 3-cone, 30.5-inch vertical, and nine-foot-10-inch broad jump — solid enough numbers that it wouldn’t change anything if you already envisioned him as a top-five pick. We don’t have any hard and fast numbers from his FCS games just yet (we’re working on it), but our top analysts thought enough of him to put him at No. 4 on our initial draft board.

 

 

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • crosseyedlemon

    I think the obsession with hand size is a bit ridiculous since these guys are not likely to end up in court like OJ Simpson trying on a glove.

    • Brian Paddock

      Try knocking the ball out of a guy’s hand that is 9″. Then try it with a guy who’s hand is 10.5″ and then you’ll get what they’re talking about.

      • LostAlone

        But it’s still a really bad reason to ignore the best player available, especially at the top of the draft. Sure, you want to see a guy who is both physically gifted and a great player but a great player is a great player. And maybe Goff will lead to one or two additional forced fumbled than if he had bigger hands; do you think the Browns are going to care if he’s a guy who can make them competitive?

        If a team like the Browns takes a ‘safe’ pick like a Guard at no 2 there’d be a mutiny in the Dog Pound. Saying ‘But he has 9 inch hands!’ simply isn’t good enough of a reason to turn down a potential franchise QB. If he fails in the NFL it won’t be because of his hand size, it’ll be because he can’t play.

        • Brian Paddock

          I totally get that. He was just wondering why it matters and I believe that’s the reason it’s a subject to begin with.

      • crosseyedlemon

        The correlation between hand size and strength of grip is weak at best. It would be like assuming a player with a large head is going to be more intelligent than the player with the smaller head.

        • Brian Paddock

          As I posted earlier, he was asking why it mattered to scouts, so I gave him their reasoning. Never said it should be a reason to not take a player.

          And it DOES actually make a difference, unlike head size. Bigger hands = better grip. That’s just physics 101.
          But I certainly wouldn’t let it stop me from taking a top notch talent for sure.

  • Tate Burghart

    If I remember right, they said Daunte Culpepper’s hands were small. He was still really good until injuries caught up with him but he did have some serious fumbling issues. I think Tony Romo has small hands as well but doesn’t seem to affect him. Wouldn’t be something I’d worry too much about.

  • Vysehrad

    Remember when they said Teddy Bridgewater’s hands were too small?