I love writing about sports, particularly about NFL players.
Is It Important for a Quarterback to Be Tall?
Height is one of the most important physical traits that most NFL teams today look for in a quarterback. As such, it comes as no surprise that the average height of a starting quarterback in the league is 6’3". Considering how tall the linemen are in today’s game, it makes sense for a quarterback to be at least 6’2”. A quarterback should be able to see over guys that are in the 6’5” to 6’7” range. This makes it easier for them to survey the field and release the ball to the receivers.
Other Physical Advantages That Come With Height
Being tall usually comes with other important physical traits that enhance the game of a quarterback.
- Big Hands: Big hands are critical to ball control. Former Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly even proposed that quarterbacks didn’t thrive because they were tall, but rather because they had big hands. There might be an element of truth to Kelly's reasoning as quarterbacks typically throw through passing lanes, not over the top of their linemen, regardless of their height.
- Long Arms: Long arms give you a natural advantage when throwing the football. It’s one of the reasons why NFL teams put great emphasis on measuring the arm length of top prospects. Longer arms usually equal higher release points, and higher release points usually equal higher throws over angry defensive lineman with less chance of tipped passes.
The Tallest Quarterbacks Ever
Most quarterbacks in the NFL today hover somewhere around 6'2" to 6'6". It’s rare to find quarterbacks taller than 6’6” because usually QBs this tall aren’t as quick as their 6’3” counterparts. We'll take a look at the tallest quarterbacks (6’6” or taller) to ever play in the NFL. Some of these players didn’t necessarily enjoy the best of careers despite their height—which goes to show that height isn’t everything in this position.
27. Justin Herbert (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Justin Patrick Herbert
Date of birth: March 10, 1998
Highlights and awards: Rose Bowl MVP (2020)
Justin Herbert was picked sixth overall by the Los Angeles Chargers in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. On September 20, 2020, he made his first NFL start in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs becoming the third player in NFL history to pass for at least 300 yards and rush for a touchdown in his first career game.
26. Jake Luton (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Jake Luton
Date of birth: April 11, 1996
College: Oregon State
Jake Luton played college football at Oregon State and was selected by the Jaguars in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. On November 8, 2020, he made his first career start in week 9 against the Houston Texans due to starter Gardner Minshew being out with a thumb injury.
25. Derek Anderson (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Derek Matthew Anderson
Date of birth: June 15, 1983
College: Oregon State University
Highlights and awards: Pro Bowl (2007)
Derek Anderson was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL draft. He played college football at Oregon State. A 2007 Pro Bowler, he also played for the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, and the Buffalo Bills. He retired from the NFL in 2019.
24. Matt Blundin (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Matthew Brent Blundin
Date of birth: March 7, 1969
College: University of Virginia
Highlights and awards: ACC Player of the Year (1991)
Matt Blundin was a back-up quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Detroit Lions during the 1990s. He received limited playing time in his career as a backup for the Chiefs and later the Detroit Lions. Blundin concluded his professional career with the Detroit Lions as the third-string quarterback in 1997.
23. Tyler Bray (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Tyler Ian Bray
Date of birth: December 27, 1991
College: University of Tennessee
Tyler Bray played his college football at the University of Tennessee. Bray went undrafted in the 2013 NFL draft, but he would later sign with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent. Bray made his NFL debut against the Denver Broncos in Week 17 of the 2017 season where he came in to relieve Patrick Mahomes II. Bray later joined the Chicago Bears.
22. Joe Flacco (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Joseph Vincent Flacco
Date of birth: January 16, 1985
College: University of Delaware
Highlights and awards: Super Bowl champion (XLVII); Super Bowl MVP (XLVII); Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year (2008); ECAC Player of the Year (2007); First-team All-CAA (2007); CAA Co-Offensive Player of the Year (2007)
Joe Flacco played college football at Delaware after transferring from Pittsburgh and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft. He helped the team win Super Bowl XLVII following the 2012 season and was named Super Bowl XLVII's MVP. He is also known for having one of the strongest arms in the NFL. He also played for the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets.
21. Nick Foles (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Nicholas Edward Foles
Date of birth: January 20, 1989
College: University of Arizona
Highlights and awards: Super Bowl champion (LII); Super Bowl MVP (LII); Pro Bowl (2013); NFL passer rating leader (2013)
Nick Foles played college football at Arizona and was drafted by the Eagles in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft. He has also played for the St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Chicago Bears. Foles led the Eagles to the franchise's third Super Bowl appearance. The Eagles defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII for their first Super Bowl title, and Foles was named the game's MVP.
20. Josh Freeman (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Joshua Tyler Freeman
Date of birth: January 13, 1988
College: Kansas State University
Highlights and awards: Kansas State Wildcats all-time passing leader (8,078)
Josh Freeman played college football at Kansas State University and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Freeman was also a member of the Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, and Montreal Alouettes (CFL).
19. Ryan Mallett (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Ryan Mallett
Date of birth: June 5, 1988
College: University of Arkansas
Highlights and awards: Second-team All-SEC (2009, 2010)
Ryan Mallett was drafted by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2011 NFL draft and has also played for the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens. He played college football at Arkansas.
18. Sean Mannion (Height: 1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Sean Thomas Mannion
Date of birth: April 25, 1992
College: Oregon State University
Sean Mannion played college football at Oregon State and was the Beavers' starting quarterback from 2011 to 2014. He was drafted by the Rams in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft, and joined the Minnesota Vikings in 2019.
17. Brian McClure (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Brian McClure
Date of birth: December 28, 1963
College: Bowling Green State University
Highlights and awards: 3-time MAC Offensive Player of the Year (1983–1985); 2-timeMAC Most Valuable Player (1984, 1985); MAC Freshman of the Year (1982)
Brian McClure was drafted in the 12th round of the 1986 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills. He was cut by the Bills in training camp in 1987 but a got a chance to play after all when Buffalo signed him as a replacement player during that year's players' strike. Among players who appeared in only one NFL game, McClure's 20 completions, 38 attempts, and 181 passing yards remain all-time records.
16. John Navarre (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: John Robert Navarre
Date of birth: September 9, 1980
College: University of Michigan
John Navarre was drafted in the seventh round of the 2004 NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals and served as their third-string quarterback for the 2004 through 2005 seasons. He started one game for the Cardinals in 2004 and appeared in five games in his three-year NFL career.
15. Tony Pike (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Anthony Steven Pike
Date of birth: March 10, 1986
College: University of Cincinnati
Highlights and awards: Second Team Big East (2008); 2008 All-Mayday Team (ESPN); First Team Big East (2009)
Tony Pike was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He competed with fellow rookie Jimmy Clausen for playing time behind incumbent Matt Moore in 2010. Pike had two elbow surgeries, the second in March 2012. In the summer of 2012, he participated in try-outs for the Cincinnati Bengals but was eventually cut.
14. Jonathan Quinn (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Jonathan Ryan Quinn
Date of birth: February 27, 1975
College: Middle Tennessee State
Highlights and awards: World Bowl IX MVP (2001)
Jonathan Quinn played professionally as a quarterback in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, and Chicago Bears. He was selected with the 25th pick of the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft out of Middle Tennessee State University by the Jaguars.
13. JaMarcus Russell (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: JaMarcus Trenell Russell
Date of birth: August 9, 1985
College: Louisiana State University
Highlights and awards: BCS national champion (2003); First-team All-SEC (2006); Manning Award (2006)
JaMarcus Russell played college football at LSU, where he finished 21–4 as a starter and was named MVP of the 2007 Sugar Bowl. The Oakland Raiders selected Russell with the first overall pick of the 2007 NFL draft. Russell played three seasons with the Raiders but was released by the team in 2010 due to his inconsistent play. He is often ranked as one of the biggest busts in NFL history.
12. Matt Schaub (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Matthew Schaub
Date of birth: June 25, 1981
College: University of Virginia
Highlights and awards: 2-time Pro Bowl (2009, 2012); NFL passing yards leader (2009)
Matt Schaub was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the 2004 NFL draft as the 90th overall pick. He was the fifth of 17 quarterbacks taken in a quarterback-rich class, including Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger. He has also played for the Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders, and Baltimore Ravens, and in 2016 he returned to the Atlanta Falcons.
11. John Skelton (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: John Michael Skelton
Date of birth: March 17, 1988
College: Fordham University
John Skelton played college football at Fordham and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL draft. He was also a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, and Montreal Alouettes (CFL).
10. Nate Sudfeld (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Nathan Michael Sudfeld
Date of birth: October 7, 1993
College: Indiana University
Highlights and awards: Super Bowl champion (LII)
Nate Sudfeld is a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. He played college football at Indiana and was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round in the 2016 NFL draft.
9. Logan Thomas (1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Logan Lamont Thomas
Date of birth: July 1, 1991
College: Virginia Tech
Highlights and awards: Second-team All-ACC (2011); ACC champion (2010)
Logan Thomas was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft. He played college football at Virginia Tech, where he was the starting quarterback from 2011 to 2013. Thomas switched his position from quarterback to tight end in 2016. He has also played for the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, and Washington Redskins.
8. Marc Wilson (Height: 1.98 m or 6 ft 6 in)
Full name: Marc Douglas Wilson
Date of birth: February 15, 1957
College: Brigham Young University
Highlights and awards: 2-time Super Bowl champion (XV, XVIII), Consensus All-American (1979)
Marc Wilson is a former professional football player who was a quarterback in the NFL for eleven seasons during the 1980s and 1990s. He played college football for Brigham Young University and was recognized as an All-American. A first-round pick in the 1980 NFL draft, he played professionally for the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, Greenbay Packers, and New England Patriots.
7. Scott Mitchell (1.99 m or 6 ft 6.5 in)
Full name: William Scott Mitchell
Date of birth: January 2, 1968
College: University of Utah
Scott Mitchell was a quarterback in the NFL for 12 seasons. He played for the Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens, and Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL, and also the Orlando Thunder of the World League of American Football. Mitchell played college football for the University of Utah.
6. Sonny Gibbs (2.01 m or 6 ft 7 in)
Full name: Sonny Gibbs
Date of birth: October 25, 1939
College: Texas Christian University
Highlights and awards: Second-team All-SWC (1961); Honorable-mention All-SWC (1962)
Sonny Gibbs is a former quarterback in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions. He played college football at Texas Christian University.
5. Mike Glennon (2.01 m or 6 ft 7 in)
Full name: Michael Joseph Glennon
Date of birth: December 12, 1989
College: North Carolina State University
Highlights and awards: PFWA All-Rookie Team (2013)
Mike Glennon played college football at NC State and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft. He has played for the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders, and Jacksonville Jaguars.
4. Paxton Lynch (2.01 m or 6 ft 7 in)
Full name: Paxton James Lynch
Date of birth: February 12, 1994
College: University of Memphis
Paxton Lynch played college football at Memphis and was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. He played just two seasons in Denver and made four starts before being released prior to the 2018 season. In January of 2019, Lynch signed with the Seattle Seahawks after missing the 2018 season, but he ended up being waived in final roster cuts. Shortly thereafter, he joined the Pittsburgh Steelers.
3. Brock Osweiler (2.01 m or 6 ft 7 in)
Full name: Brock Alan Osweiler
Date of birth: November 22, 1990
College: Arizona State University
Highlights and awards: Super Bowl champion (50)
Brock Osweiler played college football at Arizona State University and was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft. During his fourth year with the Broncos, he was a member of the team that won Super Bowl 50 over the Carolina Panthers. He went on to play for the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, and Miami Dolphins before retiring in 2019.
2. Frank Patrick (2.01 m or 6 ft 7 in)
Full name: Frank Andrew Patrick
Date of birth: March 11, 1947
College: University of Nebraska
Frank Patrick is a former quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. He played three seasons for the Packers from 1970–1972. He attended Derry Area High School and the University of Nebraska. Because he was larger than most quarterbacks of his day, he was nicknamed "the linebacker that throws passes."
1. Dan McGwire (2.03 m or 6 ft 8 in)
Full name: Daniel Scott McGwire
Date of birth: December 18, 1967
College: San Diego State University
Dan McGwire was a first-round draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks in 1991 and went on to play for five seasons in the NFL. He played four seasons for the Seahawks and one season for the Miami Dolphins. McGwire is generally considered a "first-round bust," given the fact that he was the first quarterback taken in the 1991 draft that saw Brett Favre go in the second round. At 6’8”, McGwire is the tallest quarterback ever to play in the NFL.
- Building the perfect NFL quarterback - Sports Illustrated
A quarterback with Joe Flacco's right arm, Michael Vick's left arm, Peyton Manning's head and Russell Wilson's legs? Sure sounds like the perfect NFL quarterback.
- The Quarterback Position: Does Size Matter? | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights
Being a man of perfectly average proportions, the insistence of prototypical height and weight at the quarterback position has always been of grave interest, in a sort of macabre, self loathing sort of way...
- Can NFL Quarterbacks Really Be Too Tall? - The Ringer
Since 2000, 23 QBs have measured taller than 6-foot-5 at the combine. Just three went on to start more than 50 games. Why have these players struggled—and what could this mean for top prospects in this draft?
Questions & Answers
Question: Can I be a successful quarterback at 6'0" or shorter?
Answer: Height is one of the most important physical traits that most NFL teams today look for in a quarterback. As such, it comes as no surprise that the average height of a starting quarterback in the league is 6’3". Considering how tall the linemen are in today’s game, it makes sense for a quarterback to be at least 6’2”.
However, this doesn’t mean a quarterback is doomed if he is below 6’2”. Quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have proven having other vital skills and heart can offset any of the limitations that the lack of height may present. Brees’ insane accuracy and remarkable ability to move just enough in the pocket to find throwing lanes helps him stand out despite standing at only 6’0”. Russell Wilson, who is only 5’11”, can make up for his lack of height with his speed, quick feet, and fast release.
I must mention that both Brees and Wilson have huge hands for their height. Wilson’s hand span measures a whopping 10.25 inches and is around 19% wider than the average for his height. Drew Brees has uncommonly large hands which are 10.25 inches in span as well. Brees’ hand span is close to the average for a man standing close to 7’3". Passers need to be able to control the football at all times. They need to hold onto it in a crowded pocket, pump fake, control it on play-action and direct it with ease as they throw, and big hands allow for all of those things.
Question: Who are the shortest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL?
Answer: 1. Jack Shapiro (5 ft 1 in) – Shapiro is best known for holding the title as the shortest player in the history of the NFL. He played in one game with the Staten Island Stapletons of the NFL.
2. Henry Homan (5 ft 5 in) - Homan joined the NFL in 1925 with the Frankford Yellow Jackets and played his whole career with them until 1930. Standing at 5 ft 5 in, and weighing in at an average 150 lbs throughout his playing day, Homan was one of the smallest players ever in the NFL.
3. Davey O'Brien (5 ft 7 in) - O'Brien played professionally in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles for two seasons. In 1938, O'Brien won the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award and was the fourth overall pick of the 1939 NFL draft. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1955.
4. Johnny Bryan (5 ft 7 in) - Bryan was a professional football player for the Chicago Cardinals, Chicago Bears, and Milwaukee Badgers. He was also a player-coach and franchise owner of the Badgers in 1925 and 1926.
5. Eddie LeBaron (5 ft 7 in) - LeBaron was selected by the Washington Redskins in the tenth round (123rd overall) of the 1950 NFL draft, but had to leave training camp to perform military service during the Korean War. At 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m), he was one of the shortest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.
6. Laurie Walquist (5 ft 8 in) - Walquist played with the Chicago Bears for nine seasons (1922, 1924–1931) and continued with the team through the mid-1930s as an assistant coach. He attended Rockford Central High School where he played both basketball and football.
7. Ronnie Cahill (5 ft 8 in) - Cahill was a National Football League quarterback for the Chicago Cardinals. In his only NFL season, Cahill led the league in interceptions but did not win any of the ten games in which he played.
8. Junie Hovious (5 ft 8 in) - Hovious played professional football in the National Football League, appearing in six games for the New York Giants during the 1945 NFL season. During his time with the Giants, he completed 22 of 46 passes for 373 yards and four touchdowns.
9. John McCarthy (5 ft 8 in) - McCarthy played in the National Football League for just one season in 1944. McCarthy played for "Card-Pitt," a team that was the result of a temporary merger between the Chicago Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
10. Harry Newman (5 ft 8 in) - Newman was an All-Pro American football quarterback. He played for the University of Michigan Wolverines and was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He played professionally for the New York Giants and the Brooklyn/Rochester Tigers.
11. Reino Nori (5 ft 8 in) – Reino Nori played professionally in the NFL with the Chicago Bears and the Brooklyn Dodgers. He is one of the shortest quarterbacks to play for both teams.
12. Young Bussey (5 ft 9 in) - Young Bussey was a professional American football quarterback for the Chicago Bears of the NFL. Bussey was killed in action during World War II. He was the only Bears player to die in the war.
13. Chon Gallegos (5 ft 9 in) - Gallegos is a former American football quarterback who played one season with the Oakland Raiders of the American Football League. Gallegos first enrolled at San Jose City College before transferring to San Jose State University.
14. Keith Molesworth (5 ft 9 in) - Molesworth played seven seasons with the Bears from 1931, where he was the T-formation quarterback in a backfield that included Red Grange and Bronko Nagurski. The 1932 and 1933 Bears were National Football League champions. He was elected to the State of Iowa Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.
15. Gene Ronzani (5 ft 9 in) - Ronzani was a backfield player in the NFL with the Chicago Bears for six seasons in the 1930s and two more in the mid-1940s.
16. Foster Watkins (5 ft 9 in) - Watkins was an American football quarterback in the National Football League. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1940 to 1941. He played college football for the West Texas A&M Buffaloes.
© 2019 Charles Nuamah