The Phinsider’s annual 90-in-90 series is back today with another in-depth look at the players who are currently vying to make the Miami Dolphins’ 53-man roster. This series of articles takes a look at each individual on the roster, breaking down how they performed in 2017, why they could progress or regress in 2018, and the odds that the player makes the team when the regular season arrives.
This year, we have already finished reviewed wide receiver Leonte Carroo, punter Matt Haack, safety T.J. McDonald, running back Buddy Howell, wide receiver DeVante Parker, defensive end William Hayes, wide receiver Isaiah Ford, safety/cornerback Walt Aikens, defensive end Claudy Mathieu, linebacker Kiko Alonso, cornerback Xavien Howard, long snapper Lucas Gravelle, wide receiver Danny Amendola, tight end A.J. Derby, running back Frank Gore, defensive tackle Gabe Wright, wide receiver Kenny Stills, cornerback Tony Lippett, and kickers Jason Sanders and Greg Joseph, and left tackle Laremy Tunsil. rookie tight end Mike Gesicki, and linebacker Raekwon McMillan. Today, we take a look at third-year wide receiver Jakeem Grant.
Head coach Adam Gase began incorporating Grant into Miami’s offensive game plan in the pass catcher’s second year after after relegating him to a special teams role player in Grant’s rookie season. Last year, in limited action as the team’s fourth string receiver, Grant caught 13 balls for 203 yards and two touchdowns. His special teams role also expanded from his first season, as Grant recorded 21 kick returns and 25 punt returns for a 22.8 average and 7.6 average yards per return respectively.
At times, it seemed as though Grant was mostly used as a gadget weapon on the offense. That being said, he certainly flashed the capability to be a useful contributor in Gase’s game plan moving forward.
Why he will progress
It’s widely known that a player’s third year in the NFL is the year they “make the leap” as a playmaker given they’ve had two prior seasons to acclimate to the speed and complexity of the NFL. Entering his third campaign, Grant is now in that window. We saw Grant progress last year as he fixed his fumbling and muffing issues that plagued his rookie season. Now, perhaps Grant will be able to expand on the limited offensive role he’s had as well.
The obvious change over last year is that Grant, affectionately known here at The Phisnider as “Mighty Mouse,” will be catching passes from Ryan Tannehill instead of Jay Cutler and Matt Moore, a situation that is certainly an upgrade given Cutler and Moore’s sporadic production and spotty accuracy. With Ryan Tannehill under center, the entire offense should have more stability, helping all of the pass catchers progress in some form or fashion, Grant included.
Why he might regress
Last year, Grant was essentially the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart behind Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills. This season, taking that fourth-string position will be difficult with four established veterans in place. Parker and Stills are returning and are expected to start, yet Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson were both brought in on large contracts and are expected to be key contributors in Miami. This means Grant may have a harder time carving out a role for himself in the offense.
To Grant’s credit, he showed last season that he can be a factor both on the perimeter and in the slot, but he’ll have to have a very strong training camp and preseason if he’s going to be more than a special teams ace this season, and even there he’ll have to prove himself again. With Kenyan Drake, Senorise Perry, Drew Morgan, and Amendola all being capable kick returners, Grant will have competition on special teams as well.
Chances of making the 53-man roster
Projecting Grant’s chances of making the roster is tricky simply because of the number of competitors in play here. It’s also impossible for us to know, at this point, whether or not Gase plans to keep five or six receivers on the roster to start the season. If it’s the former Grant will be competing with almost half a dozen other pass catchers for one final roster spot behind Parker, Stills, Amendola, and Wilson. Despite that fact, I see Grant as having the best chance among his compatriots to secure that final position given his ability to contribute in two phases and the coaching staff’s recorded affinity for the “Mighty Mouse.”