It’s time for another edition of the annual 90-in-90 series here on The Phinsider. Today, we continue our player-by-player breakdown of the Miami Dolphins’ 90-man preseason roster. Throughout the series, we try to get a better idea of who could make the 53-man roster when cuts inevitably come in September. Our esteemed Managing Editor, Kevin Nogle, has spearheaded this task thus far, and today, I take my first crack at the 2019 edition of the series.
This series takes a randomly selected player from Miami’s roster and looks at his play in 2018, his current contract, the chances that he will improve in 2019, the chances that his play could regress in 2019, and how secure his roster spot is.
We have already completed 19 players: Jonathan Woodard, Shaq Calhoun, Kalen Ballage, Eric Rowe, Mike Gesicki, Kendrick Norton, Maurice Smith, Albert Wilson, Wes Farnsworth, Mike Hull, Jerome Baker, Mike Gesicki, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Raekwon McMillan, Laremy Tunsil, Isaiah Prince, Preston Williams, Matt Haack, Tony Adams, and Kenneth Farrow. Today, we add wide receiver Jakeem Grant to that list.
Grant was having, by all accounts, a career year last season before an Achilles injury derailed his 2018 campaign. In just 10 games, Grant managed 268 receiving yards, while his previous high (203) was accrued over a full 16 game slate in 2017. He also averaged a career high 29.7 yards per kick return and 16.3 yards per punt return. The “mighty mouse” as I like to call the beloved 5’6” pass catcher, also found the endzone four times last season: once as a kick returner, once as a punt returner, and twice as a wideout.
Final year of a four-year, $2.48 million contract; $755,096 salary cap hit per spotrac.com
Why he will progress
Grant is entering his fourth year in the NFL and his third as a true offensive player, as his first year in the league was spent primarily holding down kick-return duties. This will be Grant’s first time playing under a new coaching staff, one that may choose to use him even more as a pass catcher. With Danny Amendola now playing with the Detroit Lions, only three wideouts seem to have jobs locked down ahead of Grant. Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker are likely to continue starting on the outside, while Albert Wilson is likely to get a majority of the starting wide receiver snaps in the slot.
Grant’s ability to separate from defenders and burn just about anyone in a footrace buoys his chances to be the first guy from the bench to crack the rotation, meaning he should see plenty of opportunities to make an impact as a pass catcher.
Why he might regress
Having a new coaching staff in town is a double-edged sword. Though offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea might find even more creative ways to use Grant than previous Dolphins play caller Adam Gase did, there’s also a chance he would prefer someone like the big-bodied Preston Williams as the team’s fourth primary receiver, or maybe Brice Butler takes that spot. There’s no guarantee (at this point in July at least) that Grant is where I believe he should be on the wide receiver depth chart.
There’s also the fact that Grant is coming off of an Achilles injury, and though he didn’t fully tear the ligament, one has to wonder if it will hamper his game. At this point however, it’s believed that he will be fully healthy going into the season.
Chances of making the 53-man roster
Despite facing some competition towards the middle of the wide receiver depth chart, Grant is a virtual lock to make the roster. Regardless of where O’Shea places his belief in Grant’s ability as a pass catcher (which I believe Grant has proven to have plenty of, but then again, I’m no coach), Grant’s electrifying kick return ability is sure to cement his place on the team.