Quarterback prospects took center stage Thursday on the second day of measurements at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. More specifically, talent evaluators from around the league scrutinized the prospects' respective hand sizes.
Along with the quarterbacks, the class' wide receivers and tight ends also underwent baseline testing of their physical traits. Other activities for the second wave of arrivals included medical examinations, media availability and interviews with potentially interested teams.
Here's a look at some of the notable results from Thursday's combine measurements, as recorded by Joe Marino of Draft Breakdown:
|2016 NFL Scouting Combine: Thursday's Key Measurements|
|QBs||School||Height||Weight (lbs)||Arm (in)||Hand (in)|
|Jared Goff||Cal||6'4''||215||32 3/4||9|
|Carson Wentz||ND State||6'5''||237||33 1/4||10|
|Paxton Lynch||Memphis||6'7''||244||34 1/4||10 1/4|
|Connor Cook||Michigan State||6'4''||217||33||9 3/4|
|Christian Hackenberg||Penn State||6'4''||223||32||9|
|Cardale Jones||Ohio State||6'5''||253||33 3/4||9 3/4|
|RBs||School||Height||Weight (lbs)||Arm (in)||Hand (in)|
|Ezekiel Elliott||Ohio State||6'0"||225||31 1/4||10 1/4|
|Derrick Henry||Alabama||6'3"||247||33||8 3/4|
|Alex Collins||Arkansas||5'10"||217||30 1/4||9 1/4|
|Devontae Booker||Utah||5'11"||219||31 5/8||8 5/8|
|Kenneth Dixon||Louisiana Tech||5'10"||215||31 3/8||9 1/2|
|Laquon Treadwell||Ole Miss||6'2''||221||33 3/8||9 1/2|
|Corey Coleman||Baylor||5'11''||194||30 1/4||9|
|Josh Doctson||TCU||6'2''||202||31 7/8||9 7/8|
|Michael Thomas||Ohio State||6'3''||212||32 1/8||10 1/2|
|Braxton Miller||Ohio State||6'1''||201||31 3/4||9 1/8|
|Will Fuller||Notre Dame||6'0''||186||30 3/4||8 1/4|
|Hunter Henry||Arkansas||6'5''||250||32 3/4||9 1/4|
|Austin Hooper||Stanford||6'4''||254||33 3/4||10 5/8|
|Nick Vannett||Ohio State||6'6''||257||34 1/4||10|
|Laremy Tunsil||Ole Miss||6'5"||310||34 1/4||10|
|Ronnie Stanley||Notre Dame||6'6"||312||35 5/8||10 5/8|
|Taylor Decker||Ohio State||6'7"||310||33 3/4||10|
|Cody Whitehair||Kansas State||6'4"||301||32 3/8||10 1/8|
|Ryan Kelly||Alabama||6'4"||311||33 5/8||9 5/8|
Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are battling to become the first quarterback off the board, likely to the Cleveland Browns with the second overall pick. You can chalk up combine-measurement day as a minor victory for Wentz due to the North Dakota State standout's impressive physical stature.
As mentioned, hand size is a key measurement at the combine, and it never receives more attention than it does over these few days. It's something teams definitely take into consideration, though. Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk provided thoughts on the subject from Browns head coach Hue Jackson.
"It matters because we play in a division where all of a sudden there's rain, there's snow and it's different," Jackson said. "I think guys that have big hands can grip the ball better in those environmental situations, and so we'll look for a guy that fits what we're looking for in a quarterback and is hand size important? Yes it is."
In turn, quarterbacks have started trying various techniques leading up to the combine with hopes of increasing their natural hand sizes. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports passed along an example from Arkansas' Brandon Allen, who had the smallest hands of any QB at the Senior Bowl (8 ½ inches):
"It's obviously something I can't control," Allen said, before adding that as part of his draft training process, the masseuse who helps the athletes with recovery has also been working twice a week on stretching out the QB's hands "to maybe get another 1/2 inch or 1/4 inch here or there because the muscles in my hands were really tight and this can loosen them up. I have long fingers.
"It's worth a shot."
Maybe he's on to something, because he checked in at 8 ⅞ inches at the combine.
Meanwhile, Tony Grossi of ESPN.com noted Goff's hand size is more than a half-inch below the position average over the past decade.
Mike Kaye of First Coast News joked about some of the small hands among the group:
Mike Kaye @mike_e_kaye
Some of these QB hand measurements at the Combine... https://t.co/u0VStHIyfF2/25/2016, 1:25:43 PM
Moving beyond hand size, Ross Tucker of SiriusXM NFL Radio highlighted the difference between perception and reality when it comes to Goff and Christian Hackenberg:
Ross Tucker @RossTuckerNFL
Big, strong Hackenberg weighs 8lbs more than "slender" Goff2/25/2016, 1:35:52 PM
The measurements are just the start of the quarterback battle in Indianapolis, though. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported earlier in the week that all of the top prospects at the position are expected to take part in the throwing aspects of the event.
It's rare for that to happen. Usually some of the biggest names decide to skip that portion of the combine. But since Goff and Wentz are battling for the top QB spot, it puts a little extra pressure on them to showcase their skills throughout the draft process.
The questions surrounding top wide receiver Laquon Treadwell have nothing to do with size. So it's no shock the measurements were rock-solid, as NFL Draft Insider spotlighted:
NFL Draft Insider @NFLDraftInsider
Top WR of the Draft Laquon Treadwell measures in at 6'2 221lbs. Assuming that is all good weight, scouts will love that. Too bad he wont run2/25/2016, 4:04:21 PM
The Ole Miss star confirmed he won't participate in the event's marquee event, the 40-yard dash, per Brooke Cersosimo of NFL.com. He'll run at his pro day on March 28 instead. So any concerns about his breakaway speed will have to wait until then, and the combine shouldn't have much impact on his stock.
That opens the door for other receivers to steal the spotlight. While raw measurements only count for so much, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller had just one word to describe what Ohio State's Michael Thomas posted Thursday:
Matt Miller @nfldraftscout
Michael Thomas came in at 6'3, 212 lbs, 32 1/8" arms and 10 1/2" hands. Wow.2/25/2016, 3:50:38 PM
If nothing else, that ensures there will be a lot of eyes on Thomas for the rest of the combine. He could establish himself as the No. 2 receiver in the class and potentially even put some pressure on Treadwell heading into the college pro days.
Braxton Miller, Thomas' teammate with the Buckeyes, is another wideout who will generate plenty of interest over the next few days. He's still raw as a receiver after making the switch from quarterback last year, but his physical stature is a fit for the position.
Then there's his game-breaking ability. Albert Breer of NFL.com passed along high praise from Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith in that regard.
"So long as he wasn't hurt, he's never stepped foot on a field where he wasn't the best athlete or the fastest guy out there," Smith said. "I'm telling you, he's been the best athlete and the fastest player every time he's walked onto a field."
A strong combine and the hype around Miller is going to really start picking up.
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As for the tight ends, it's a pretty lackluster class as a whole. Hunter Henry is probably the only one with a realistic chance to crack the first round barring a truly outstanding showing from somebody else leading up to draft day.
Shane P. Hallam of DraftTV.com discussed Henry's results and long-term outlook:
Shane P. Hallam @ShanePHallam
TE Hunter Henry measures in nicely. Great size, hands, and can block. May not have the huge dynamic upside, but solid starter for awhile2/25/2016, 3:52:32 PM
Ultimately, the biggest takeaways from Thursday's measurements are the hand-size difference between Goff and Wentz along with Thomas' overall numbers. As you'd expect, nothing happened to seriously shake up the draft rankings, though.
The athletic testing and positional drills in the days ahead are more valuable in terms of evaluating a prospect as compared to his game film. That's the best chance for prospects, especially those who may be a bit off the radar right now, to make a real impact.
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