Editor’s note: Scott Bair is in Indianapolis to cover the NFL Combine. Check back for his comprehensive coverage and catch his nightly updates on SportsNet Central.
INDIANAPOLIS – Jared Goff didn’t realize he had small hands until he got to the NFL Scouting Combine. The Cal quarterback's hands measured just nine inches from pinky to thumb, which is apparently a bad thing.
The measurement produced some wacky headlines, including this beauty from Yahoo Sports: “Jared Goff’s small hands could shape NFL draft starting at No. 2.” Or USA Today’s “Does Jared Goff have tiny hands? A brief investigation.”
These stories are written with tongue in cheek, but some NFL executives prize passers with big hands, which help throwing accuracy and power and avoid fumbling issues.
Goff is widely considered among the NFL draft’s top quarterbacks, and could be drafted as high as No. 2 by the Cleveland Browns. There’s competition for the top spot, most notably from North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. For the record, Wentz has 10-inch hands.
Goff found it comical that such a statistic could hurt his draft stock, or impact the quality he put on film during three seasons with the Golden Bears. His best season was his last, throwing for 4,719 yards, 43 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions.
He also had 37 fumbles in three seasons, which media attributed to small hands. Goff scoffed when questioned about the issue, and started this interaction:
“How many did I have this past year?”
“That’s pretty good, right? My freshman year we went 1-11, so things don’t go well when you’re losing so much. I think I’ve improved if I only had four last season and (37) total.”
Goff believes he’s the best quarterback in this draft, and is NFL ready despite nit picking questions about his hands.
“I have tremendous leadership. I’m hard working. I believe I’m going to improve a team the day I get there,” Goff said. “I’m a guy who can play right away, but won’t be upset if I hang back and learn for a while. I’m excited to go through this draft process and I believe I’ll make an impact right away.”
He’d like to go as high as possible, though there is debate whether Goff or Wentz will be the first quarterback off the board. Goff and Wentz have trained together the past six weeks, and haven’t let the competition impede a fast friendship.
“There is a competition when we go out and throw together,” Goff said. “It’s by no means cutthroat, but we push each other to do our best every day.”
The scouting combine is apparently a time to be critical of quarterbacks, even before they go through drills later this week. Goff was questioned about his ability to function in inclement weather – the quarterback-needy Browns often play in muck – and how playing in a spread offense at Cal will hinder him in a pro-style scheme.
Goff isn’t worried about much, including real or perceived detractions.
“There will be a transition, as there would be for any quarterback entering the NFL,” Goff said. “I’m excited for the opportunity, though. I believe my skill set translates well, and I think I’ll do well as a professional.”
The Novato native is still having fun with the draft process despite increased scrutiny, which should ramp up in the coming weeks.
“I’ve talked to other pro quarterbacks, and they told me to enjoy the process and just be yourself,” Goff said. “It can be tiresome and you can run out of gas, but you have to keep going and find ways to have fun with it and soak it all in.”