JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Brandon Allen found out pretty quickly during the pre-draft process that size does matter.
Anything less than nine inches isn’t ideal. Bigger is always better.
Especially when it comes to a quarterback’s hand size. NFL teams want big hands because that means QBs can hold onto the ball and throw it better in the cold and in inclement weather. Allen’s hands measured 8-7/8 inches, which he said got him dropped from several teams’ draft boards. Luckily for him, the Jacksonville Jaguars weren’t one of them.
They drafted Allen with one of their sixth-round picks and their thinking was this: It’s not the size of the quarterback’s hands, it’s the passer rating.
"We talk about it," coach Gus Bradley admitted during the team’s rookie orientation. "We put up the tape and give height, weight, size, hand size, so it comes up. I think it’s something that you’re aware of but more to watch does it affect him and we didn’t see where it affected him at all.
"It didn’t hold us back. It wasn’t a major check against him, anything like that."
In fact, it was something they spent very little time on, especially after spending a week with Allen at the Senior Bowl when he was one of the quarterbacks on the South team. In addition to being the son of a coach, Allen also played for three offensive coordinators in four seasons. His ability to adapt to what the Jaguars were teaching that week impressed offensive coordinator Greg Olson and quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett.
Bradley really liked the way Allen took control of the offense and the leadership skills he showed that week, too.
So Allen’s hands, which measured 8-1/2 inches at the Senior Bowl, were irrelevant to the Jaguars. Not to other teams, though, and that was bothersome for Allen, who left Arkansas third on the school’s all-time passing yardage list (7,463 yards).
"It was [frustrating] just because it’s something I can’t control at all," Allen said. "Obviously I tried to get them stretched out. There’s only so much you can do with that. Other than that I really didn’t let it affect me at all."
Yes, Allen got his hands stretched. While that sounds like something that would be done on a medieval torture device, it was much less painful. He said a massage therapist worked the muscles in his hand and was able to stretch it an extra 3/8 of an inch.
He wasn’t happy with the fuss teams made about his hands, especially since he played in plenty of cold and rainy games. Fayetteville isn’t exactly Maui.
"I’ve played in cold weather and I’ve played in rain and it has never affected me," Allen said. "I think the last five or six of our games [last season] were 40 [degrees] or below so it gets chilly. It gets cold. I do just fine in the cold weather."
Allen led the SEC in passer rating and was third in completion percentage (66 percent) and passing yards (3,440) last season. He threw 30 touchdown passes -- only Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly threw more (31) -- and only eight interceptions.
Despite that, he was the 13th of 15 quarterbacks drafted, and he landed on a team that has an established starter in Blake Bortles and a veteran backup the team really likes in Chad Henne. Allen is actually fine with that, though.
"The best part is there is an obvious starter and I think that’s someone that you can learn from," Allen said. "He knows what it takes to be successful at this level and I think that’s one of the best things you can do, come in where someone ahead of you has been doing it. Learn how they prepare, learn how they practice, and all that. That’s probably the best situation, the best opportunity for me."