Steelers GM Rejects Concerns over Kenny Pickett's Hand Size: 'We Look at the Results'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 5, 2022

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 04: Kenny Pickett (8) quarterback of Pitt. during the ACC Football Championship game between the Pitt Panthers and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on December 4, 2021, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.  (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On the heels of his final draft as general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kevin Colbert downplayed concerns about quarterback Kenny Pickett's hand size.

According to ProFootballTalk's Michael David Smith, Colbert suggested that the tape meant far more to him than the measurements: "Honestly, I never paid attention to that. We look at the results. We watch Kenny play in our environment. ... Can he throw the football? Absolutely. Did he have an excessive fumble rate? No, he didn't. We just judge it on how he played."

At the University of Pittsburgh's pro day in March, Pickett's hand measured 8⅝ inches, which means he will have smaller hands than any notable starting or backup quarterback in the NFL this season.

Despite that, the Steelers invested heavily in Pickett, making him the first and only quarterback selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft at No. 20 overall.

To Colbert's point, Pickett was spectacular in his final season at Pitt, completing 67.2 percent of his passes for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while also rushing for 241 yards and five scores.

That yielded Pickett a third-place finish in the Heisman Trophy voting and put him on the NFL draft radar as well.

In the weeks leading up to the draft, it seemed as though Liberty's Malik Willis and perhaps even Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder had surpassed him on draft boards based on the reports that were coming out, but Pickett proved to be the only quarterback taken before the third round.

Colbert played a role in selecting two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger, and one of his final acts as GM before departing was to draft Roethlisberger's eventual replacement.

Following Big Ben's retirement, the Steelers signed Mitchell Trubisky in free agency. They also still have Mason Rudolph on the roster, and the assumption was that they would battle it out to determine the starter in 2022.

Pickett could well sit for some or all of the 2022 season, but he figures to get a fair shot to win the starting job as well.

Like Colbert, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin doesn't seem to have any reservations about the selection of Pickett based on what he said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show (h/t Smith):

"I potentially was capable of buying into [hand size concerns] if I didn't watch him play college football in Pittsburgh and deal with the elements that come with playing in this environment. So you can buy into the hand size thing or you can just look at how he performed in a variety of conditions, and we have those conditions in Pittsburgh. So there was very little speculation from our perspective about how he might handle the ball in inclement weather, wet days, etc. They played North Carolina on a Thursday night, I went to the game, it was raining pretty good that night and he had no issues."

Strong play at the college level plays a role in teams drafting players, but it isn't always an indicator of future success, as many collegiate stars have flopped in the NFL.

In addition to the competition being tougher, the NFL football is slightly bigger than the NCAA football, which could make Pickett's hand size more of a concern.

The Steelers brass saw plenty of Pickett throughout his college career, though, and it is clear that Colbert, Tomlin and Co. believe he can overcome any perceived deficiencies.