PITTSBURGH — For much of the pre-draft process, the talk around Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett was not about his stellar senior season with the Panthers, or his 40-yard dash time, or his accuracy, but the size of his hands.
Pickett’s hands measured 8 1/2 inches wide at the NFL Combine, and 8 5/8 at Pitt’s pro day in April. That’s unusually small for a quarterback — most measure at least 9 inches — and it causes a stir when Pickett’s hand size came up on the small side.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said it wasn’t an issue for them in the pre-draft process, and that was obviously the case, as he called Pickett’s name with the No. 20 overall selection.
“It wasn’t for us,” Colbert said after making the pick Thursday night. “Honestly, I never paid attention to it. I believe it was the Clemson game, and there were other scouts here, and they said, you know he’s got a small hand? And I said, ‘No, thanks for sharing.’
“But it really didn’t matter because it was never a factor. His fumble rate was not anywhere near a problem. He could certainly throw the football.”
Pickett had 26 total fumbles over his career at Pitt, which is one of the higher marks across the NCAA in that timespan. But he lessened that to just three in 2021, while getting much better protection from the Pitt offensive line.
The other thing that gave the Steelers and other teams some confidence in putting Pickett on their board, is that Pickett is double jointed, meaning his thumb does not lay flat for a measurement, but grips a round football a lot better.
“Sometimes we get hung up on all that analytical measurements and short arms and long arms and so on and so forth,” Colbert said. “I just want to see the results. I know coach (Tomlin) does, too. It certainly didn’t affect him.”