Beyond the 1st round: QBs & hand size

When evaluating quarterbacks for their system, the Patriots look closely at hand size. Bigger is better.

Former Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli, on a panel at the MIT Sloan Analytics Conference this year, explained how the team once learned a tough lesson in this area. When playing in New England, a quarterback’s grip on the football takes on added importance because of the weather conditions.

In 2011, Ryan Mallett (10 3/4) had the biggest hand size of all top quarterback prospects that year.

In contrast, current No. 3 quarterback Mike Kafka (9 1/4) -- the 2010 fourth-round draft choice of the Eagles who was signed by New England this offseason -- is closer to the other end of the spectrum.

With this in mind, as part of the “beyond the first round” series, let’s look at some of the quarterback prospects this year who might fit for the Patriots, and list them by hand size:

Dayne Crist (Kansas) -- 10 1/4

Has prototype size at 6-foot-4 and 232 pounds and played under former Patriots assistant Charlie Weis at Notre Dame and then Kansas. If the Patriots are looking to develop another quarterback, and Crist is still available with one of their seventh-round picks, perhaps he gets a look. The Patriots’ ties to Weis could potentially give the Patriots the edge if Crist is choosing teams as a free agent.

James Vandenberg (Iowa) -- 9 3/4

A two-time team captain, he played in a pro-style offense for Kirk Ferentz (a former Bill Belichick assistant with the Browns). One question is why he dipped in his final season. He’d also project to be in the seventh-round/free-agent type range.

Brad Sorensen (Southern Utah) -- 9 1/4

Like Vandenberg, he was a two-time captain who is considered smart and accurate. He played against lesser competition on a regular basis, which is an aspect of the scouting process that NFL teams will likely be wrestling with. Another late-round type consideration.

Jeff Tuel (Washington State) -- 9 1/4

Similar to the other quarterbacks listed here, he’s a later-round/free-agent type of option whom the Patriots put through a private workout last month. He was 4-22 as a starter, but played behind a shaky offensive line and hung tough. After building momentum in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, he has shown up on the radar of some NFL teams.

Sean Renfree (Duke) -- 9

Bill Belichick often talks about the importance of accuracy and decision-making, and Renfree (6-3, 219) set the Duke record for completion percentage (64.7). He is considered smart and played in a pro-style offense. Like the others here, he’d a later-round/free-agent type consideration.