Cody Kessler didn’t excel in physical testing, but the USC quarterback put in a solid day throwing at the NFL Combine and measured in with above average hands.
Cody Kessler entered the NFL Combine with a reputation as a game manager — accurate and intelligent but lacking in arm strength. By the end of the week not much had changed, though he did add one important modifier to that description — with big hands.
Measurements: 6’1″ | 220 lbs | 32 5/8″ arms | 10 7/8″ hands40-yard dash: 4.89Vertical jump: 29.5″Broad jump: 104″
When it comes to the latest obsession in the NFL, Kessler came out on top. His 10 7/8 inch measurement for hand size was tied with Paxton Lynch for the largest.
That’s big for the Trojan QB because, as it turns out, hand size is a major factor being considered by many teams as they set up their draft boards. Everyone from Hue Jackson to John Elway to Chip Kelly has noted that the measurement is important as the ability to throw in cold weather can be affected by size. There is also a greater correlation between hand size and success than height.
Specific to Kessler, larger hand size could help take some of the stigma from his below average height. The Russell Wilson comparison is a positive one to have.
Granted, Kessler doesn’t have Wilson’s athleticism. His 4.89 40-yard dash was third worst among quarterbacks. His 29.5-inch vertical was sixth worst and his 104-inch broad jump was second worst.
The good news is that teams don’t draft quarterbacks to broad jump. When it came to throwing, Kessler put on a good show. Though his long ball remained inconsistent, he proved capable of completing sideline throws with accuracy.
Kessler spoke about overcoming adversity and what his strengths are during the media portion of the Combine (via Orange County Register):
"“I’ve dealt with pretty much every example of adversity you can think of,” Kessler said Thursday. “I just wanted to be the one guy who was the constant and continued through it. I think I’m better from it. If things don’t go my way, I know how to respond to that and I know how to bounce back.” “For me, the mental side of it is something that is big, being able to recognize defenses,” Kessler said. “Obviously everyone can throw and everyone can play at the next level, but for me, I’ve always wanted to be a step ahead of everyone on the mental side of it. “Along with that is my accuracy and my decision-making. That’s something we were graded on at USC. I always wanted to model my game after people who make good decisions and plays.”"
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The arm strength question will follow Kessler throughout the draft process. Lighting the Combine on fire with a jaw-dropping display of long throws was the only real way he could exponentially improve his draft stock and, unsurprisingly, that didn’t happen.
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Still, Kessler did nothing to hurt his prospects and had opportunities to raise his profile in other ways. The quarterback had an informal meeting with the Cleveland Browns and did well speaking to the media about difficult issues relating to his former coaches Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian.
On the field, he displayed the reliable throwing he is capable of, which could entice a team to spend a draft pick on him regardless of arm strength.
Meanwhile, hand size is a new plus in his corner, especially for cold weather cities considering a late round quarterback.
While Kessler will likely remain a late round pick, his Combine week was solid.