Despite being shorter and weighing less than their competitors, many undersized athletes in the National Football League are currently performing at an elite level.
This list ranks the five best undersized players in the NFL today.
5. London Fletcher — 5'10", 245 pounds
One of the most underrated players in NFL history, middle linebacker London Fletcher has long served as one of the league’s most dependable defensive player, despite being about four inches shorter than what league executives deem as an ideal size.
As a member of the St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, and Washington Redskins, Fletcher has served as one of the NFL’s most well-rounded linebackers; amassing 30 sacks and 15 interceptions through his first twelve seasons in the NFL.
A key member of the 1999 St. Louis Rams’ Super Bowl winning squad, Fletcher has long been regarded as one of the NFL’s most respected veterans.
4. Maurice Jones-Drew — 5'7", 210 pounds
Originally drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a compliment to running back Fred Taylor who could hopefully produce as a return specialist, few believed that Maurice Jones-Drew had the size to serve as an every-down back in the NFL.
Standing at only 5'7", and weighing in at a below-average 210 pounds, Jones-Drew plays much larger than his rather non-intimidating size.
With his combination of elusiveness, speed and surprising power, Jones-Drew has become one of the most productive rushers in the league.
In four seasons in the NFL, Jones-Drew has muscled his way to over 50 touchdowns and nearly 6,000 offensive yards, thereby eliminating the notion that the former UCLA Bruin couldn’t handle that tenacity of NFL defences.
3. Wes Welker — 5'9", 185 pounds
Despite standing at only 5'9", former Texas Tech Red Raider Wes Welker has established himself as one of the biggest play-makers in the NFL.
Originally undrafted, Welker signed with the San Diego Chargers before landing with the Miami Dolphins prior to the 2004 NFL season.
During his run with Miami, Welker was used primarily as a special teams ace. In the NFL’s storied history, only Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers amassed more all-purpose yards in his first three seasons than Welker.
Undoubtedly seeing the unlimited potential in the undersized Welker, the New England Patriots signed the diminutive wide-out before the 2007 campaign.
In a mere three seasons in New England, Welker has gone from relative obscurity to superstardom; amassing nearly 350 receptions as Tom Brady’s primary target with the powerhouse Patriots.
As a member of the Patriots, Welker has become one of most dependable receivers in the league. As a two time Pro Bowl selection, Welker has used his fearlessness, and football knowledge to make up for his below-average stature.
2. Drew Brees — 6'0", 209 pounds
It’s hard to believe that the reigning Super Bowl Most Valuable Player was once believed to be too small for the NFL.
Prior to entering the 2001 NFL Draft, one of the few knocks against Drew Brees was that at 6'0", many thought the Purdue Boilermaker and his diminutive stature wouldn’t cut it in the big leagues. Oh, how they were wrong.
Fortunately, the San Diego Chargers looked past Brees’ less than ideal size and selected the signal caller with the first selection of the second round.
Despite playing well in five seasons with the Chargers, Brees was ushered out of San Diego to make room for the much taller Phillip Rivers before the 2006 NFL campaign.
After Brees signed with the New Orleans Saints, it took very little time for the Austin, Texas native to excel with the pass-happy NFC South franchise.
Despite working with less-than-elite wide receivers during his tenure with the Saints, Brees has become one of the league’s most efficient passers, regardless of stature.
In four seasons in New Orleans, Brees has thrown for over 18,000 yards and 120 touchdowns, while more importantly leading the Saints to their first ever NFL championship in 2010.
1. Ray Lewis — 6'1", 250 pounds
It became abundantly clear that NFL executives aren’t nearly as intuitive as they seem to think they are, when four linebackers were selected before the Baltimore Ravens made one of the best selections in league history with the acquisition of Ray Lewis in the 1996 NFL Draft.
Over the course of the next decade, the previously overlooked Miami Hurricane would cement his status as one of the best linebackers to ever play, regardless of size.
The 11-time Pro Bowl honoree Lewis has proven to be a dominant force who is just as efficient as any linebacker in NFL history in stopping the run, rushing the passer, and dropping back into coverage.
Statistics aside, Lewis will be remembered as one of the most intimidating and boisterous men in NFL history.
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