INDIANAPOLIS — Kenny Pickett has tried to keep it from being a big deal, but his small hands are again a conversation at the Scouting Combine.
In his official measurements Thursday, Pickett's hand came in at 8-1/2 inches across (measured flat on a table from pinkie to thumb), significantly smaller than the 9-inch baseline scouts prefer in quarterbacks. He didn't have them measured at the Senior Bowl, as he worked to stretch his hand since then.
"It's just exercises I'm doing," Pickett said. "The reason why I didn't measure at the Senior Bowl was to have those extra couple weeks. Just a common sense thing, having more time to work the exercises. Whatever it measures, it measures. I'm sure that won't be the last of it. But it'll be the last measurement I take of it."
Bengals backup quarterback Brandon Allen also had 8 1/2-inch hands at the Senior Bowl prior to being drafted in 2016, though they were measured at 8 7/8 inches by the time he got to the Combine after he went through a stretching routine of his own.
While it seems silly (and it has been taken to ridiculous extremes by some), there is a real-world application. An NFL ball is slightly bigger than the model used in college, and Pickett has always worn gloves on both hands.
While college teams use balls from different equipment suppliers, Wilson makes the NFL's official ball, "The Duke." And while weather conditions and air pressure can cause the ball to change size, the standard circumference around the side of the NFL ball is 21 to 21.25 inches, while Wilson's college ball can be as small as 20.75 inches.
It's not a huge difference, but they call it a game of inches for a reason.
Pickett has played in poor weather games before, and he hopes his outstanding senior season is more of a factor. He also said that reporters bring it up far more often than teams do in his formal interviews here.
"The big body of work is your tape," he said. "There are multiple games throughout your career where people can go watch. That's your resume. Your tape is your resume. All this other stuff are the boxes you have to check before the draft."
-- With a reasonable doubt about their ability to retain linebacker Haason Reddick (he becomes a free agent on Mar. 16, and will likely command a huge payday somewhere), the Panthers made keeping Frankie Luvu a priority. General manager Scott Fitterer said they viewed re-signing Luvu as retaining a starter, and Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said he thinks Luvu can have a bigger role.
Rhule pointed to the Jan. 2 game against the Saints, when Reddick was on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and Luvu replaced him and had nine tackles, including three tackles for loss.
"I think he's he's one of those guys who's like the heart and soul of a team," Rhule said. "I mean everybody on our team respects Frankie, loves Frankie, loves the way he plays, and he's versatile; he can play inside backer, he can play outside backer.
"So he's another guy that we started to hear a lot of buzz about, and so I thought Scott did a great job of getting that one done early. You know, I said to you guys we're going to have to make some really hard, frugal decisions along the way, and so to me to be able to get guys that you think are starters and get them in the right range (was significant)."
— Rhule also noted the search for offensive line help will be a little different under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
"I think what we're looking for, we want to have an offensive line that can protect the quarterback, and we think we'll be a little bit more of a downhill physical, a little bit bigger," Rhule said. "Just trying to go with more of a big bigger, more powerful downhill approach."
View AP images from downtown Indianapolis, the site of the 2022 NFL Combine.