Measuring up: height vs. arm length
Every year, NFL prospects strip down to their underwear and are paraded around in front of NFL scouts and executives in an event known as the weigh-in. This is the first time official heights and weights are taken on each player. But two other important pieces of information are also recorded that have as much bearing on how “big” a potential NFL prospect can play: reach (the length of a prospect’s arm) and hand size (the length from the pinkie finger measured to the thumb).
Football is a contact sport in which collisions take place on every play. Most NFL players are asked to win battles at the point of attack, and the players with the biggest frames and longest reaches have a clear advantage when engaging an opposing player.
The reach or arm length of a prospect is a key attribute to any position, especially those playing on the line of scrimmage. However, at no position is reach more vital than at the offensive tackle spot. To explain how offensive linemen can be affected by length, I want to take a look at two former prospects with similar height/weight numbers who have taken different paths in their NFL careers.
OT Adam Terry (Baltimore Ravens) and OT Marcus McNeill (San Diego Chargers) are former second-round picks (Terry in 2005, McNeill in 2006) who each measured 6-8 and weighed about 330 pounds at their combine appearances. However, the key difference at each player’s weigh-in was the discrepancy in the length of their reaches. McNeill’s measured 35