- Mel Kiper has served as an NFL draft analyst for ESPN since 1984. He is a regular contributor on SportsCenter and ESPN Radio and writes weekly for ESPN Insider.
- ESPN College Football and NFL Draft Analyst
- Joined ESPN in 2006
- Played quarterback in high school and was a backup QB for the University of Richmond.
The NFL combine is finally here, and the best 2020 NFL draft prospects are in Indianapolis to go through athletic testing, meet with teams for in-depth interviews and get accurately measured. It’s the most important evaluation event leading up to the draft, which starts April 23.
With workouts starting Thursday night — here’s the full schedule — we asked NFL draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay to answer questions about what they’re keeping an eye on in Indy, which prospects could rise and more.
Check out coverage on ESPN and the ESPN App on Thursday and Friday, with nightly specials dedicated to the workouts. And catch the combine special on ABC on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.
Let’s start with Joe Burrow: Does his hand size matter?
Kiper: No, it doesn’t, though NFL teams do use 9-inch hands as the bar for quarterbacks. They might worry if he was under that, but there’s no reason to knock him at this point. He didn’t have a fumbling problem in college, and it didn’t affect him when he was throwing 60 touchdown passes on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. And it hasn’t affected Patrick Mahomes, who is a quarter-inch above 9.
Hand size is overrated; there’s a long list of busts who had huge hands. Paxton Lynch, Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman and Tim Tebow all had over 10-inch hands.
McShay: Here’s a nugget: Of 34 quarterbacks who’ve measured in with 9-inch hands or smaller, only two — Ryan Tannehill and Jared Goff — have experienced sustained success in the NFL (although Drew Lock looked good in half a season, too). But it’s not an end-all, be-all. It’s just a data point that, like other measurements, makes you go back and look for certain things on tape. In this case, it’s how well he protects the football and how he throws in poor weather.
I saw Burrow live vs. Ole Miss in late September 2018 in driving rain in Death Valley, and he completed 72% of his passes for 292 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. As for fumbling, he did so just four times last season, and lost just one. Let’s put this to bed: Hand size is not an issue for Burrow. The Bengals shouldn’t hesitate in taking him No. 1 overall, especially now that Burrow says he will indeed suit up for Cincinnati if it uses that top pick on him.
Outside of Burrow, who is the most interesting prospect in Indianapolis?
McShay: No, he isn’t working out. No, he isn’t even the top quarterback on my board. But make no mistake, Tua Tagovailoa is the center of attention in Indianapolis this week. Though the Alabama quarterback expects to be fully cleared from his hip injury by mid-March, his medical reports here are the main focus and an important checkpoint for NFL scouts. Has he progressed to where he should be at this point?
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