This offseason, Jakeem Grant really wanted to prove that he deserves to be a Dolphin, and over the past few weeks he’s done just that.
Anyone who’s watched Miami’s preseason games has seen just how effective Grant can be, but we all knew he had the potential to make plays. In week 5 of last season, the Mighty Mouse embarrassed the Tennessee Titans special teams unit on a blazing 74-yard punt return touchdown. However, Grant’s impressive play this preseason is surprising not because he’s making plays, but because he’s doing so on offense.
Based off of the 2016 season, most Dolphins fans assumed that however long Grant played for the team, he would be doing so in a special teams capacity. In his rookie campaign, Grant recorded zero receptions and one rushing attempt that resulted in a one yard gain. Most of the time he was on the field, he was fielding punts and kickoffs.
And while Grant will most certainly have a special teams role this year, head coach Adam Gase seems determined to watch the undersized receiver’s job description stretch past returning punts. Over three preseason games, Grant has collected four receptions for 89 yards and one touchdown, and two of those receptions highlighted why Gase is building confidence in his young pass catcher.
Two weeks ago, when the Dolphins hosted the Atlanta Falcons, the 5’7” Grant caught a high pass for a first down over the 6’1” cornerback Deji Olatoye. You read that right; Grant out-jumped a cornerback who had half a foot of height on him.
On Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, Grant further cemented the idea that he can be a weapon in Gase’s offense. With just under four minutes to go in the third quarter, he took a slant 69 yards to the house while breaking two tackles. The subsequent chase that took place after the missed tackles was clearly just a formality, as no defender on the Eagles is ever going to run down Grant, one of the fastest players in the NFL.
In fact, one of the only players in the league who’s speed is comparable to Grant’s is Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver and special teams ace Tyreek Hill. In 2016, Hill dazzled fans and abused opposing teams week in and week out with his unmatched speed and unparalleled quickness. He scored six receiving touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns, and three returning touchdowns on his way to a Pro Bowl rookie season that left defensive coordinators and special teams coaches scratching their heads. Hill is the kind of a swiss army knife weapon that offensive minded coaches dream of utilizing, and I believe Grant can be the same kind for weapon of the Dolphins.
With a creative offensive wizard like Gase, there is no limit to the contributions that Grant can make on offense. Whether it be through runs out of the backfield, screen passes, reverses, slants, or stop-and-go routes, there are boundless ways in which Gase can get the ball into Grant’s hands and give opposing defenses nightmares.
Two weeks ago, I noted that Grant is beginning to feel more comfortable as a receiver in Gase’s offense. In an interview I got to have with the wideout, Grant mentioned that his role is “progressing.” Based on his performance over the past three weeks, it appears “progressing” might just be an understatement.