The average height and weight for an NFL player is about 6’2”, 245, and of course, linemen are much bigger than that. Every so often, though, an undersized guy comes into the league and makes a substantial contribution, in helping his team win games. At 5’7”, 169 pounds, Dolphins WR Jakeem Grant is an exciting player to watch. Only seeing the field sporadically during his first two seasons, he has 13 career receptions for 203 yards and two touchdowns. It’s in the return game, however, that Grant is most electrifying; he already has nearly 1300 return yards to his credit, including a ridiculous 74-yard touchdown against the Tennessee Titans his rookie season that has to be seen to be believed. Jitterbugging up the right sideline, he repeatedly stopped to juke would-be tacklers, then accelerated again up the field, leaving them grasping at air in futility as he evaded the entire punt coverage unit of the visiting team. Billy ‘White Shoes’ Johnson, who coincidentally starred with the old Houston Oilers in the 1970’s, would have been proud.
To be sure, Grant is far from the first undersized NFL player to have success; Darren Sproles (5’6”, 190) has been lethal to opposing defenses and special teams units for years, with New Orleans and Philadelphia, as was Dante Hall (5’8”, 187) with Kansas City in the early 2000’s. Even venerable old Bill Parcells, one of the most prominent purveyors of smash-mouth football, made use of 5’7” Dave Meggett, with great success, in the early 90’s.
Now, with Miami having signed not one, but two new wideouts, former Patriot Danny Amendola and ex-Chief Albert Wilson, to replace the departed Jarvis Landry, Grant will have to prove himself all over again. I wouldn’t bet against him. As his personal trainer, Donovan Osby, said prior to Grant being selected with the 186th overall pick by the Dolphins, in the 2016 draft, if he were a few inches taller, he’d be a first-round pick. Grant possesses athletic traits that just can’t be taught. Obviously, he has blinding speed, and he’s quicker than instant coffee. If he’s even, he’s leavin’, as they say. Opposing defensive backs who fail to wrap him up on initial contact will more often than not find themselves staring at the back of Grant’s jersey as he sprints to the end zone, as he did against the Chiefs in a 2017 road contest. Grant took a simple screen pass, bounced off several Kansas City players and was gone.
Then there is his freakish leaping ability. A guy five foot seven just isn’t supposed to be able to jump 36 1/2 inches into the air, which is more than half his height. This allows him to routinely outjump taller corners and safeties for the ball. Watching him on that touchdown catch against New England, in their Monday night game last December, you’d swear Grant had steel springs in his legs, instead of just muscle and sinew. The Dolphins will have a lot of receivers vying for playing time this season, but Grant figures to awfully hard to keep on the sidelines for very long in 2018.