NFL's Shortcoming: The League's Shortest Players with Big Play Mentality
The NFL is a constantly evolving jungle of extremely talented athletes; a league where the ego of each player blends together and creates a toxic fume.
There are currently hundreds of players in the NFL ranging in all shapes and sizes. How is it that a 5'9" player is expected to cover someone that is 6'5"?
For shorter players, it takes multiple physical and mental skill sets in order to become the elite players they are.
Lets take a look at some of the shortest current players and the obstacles they had to overcome to be among the league's best.
DeSean Jackson: 5'10
DeSean Jackson has only been in the league for two years, but the Dallas Cowboys seemed to be the only team that could truly contain him in 2009. In such a short amount of time he has already amassed quite a profile.
Drafted in the second round (49th overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft, many believed he was overlooked by most of the teams mainly because of his size, but he also had a bad rap for being a locker room cancer.
In every aspect, Jackson has quietly (until recently) gone about his business and made plays, while setting some records in the process.
Because of Eagles injuries in 2008 at the WR position, Jackson was immediately thrust into a starting role and quickly became the team's No. 1 threat.
His 2009 campaign ended perfectly for Jackson, as he tied the leagues 50-plus yard TD receptions record at eight and also became the first player in NFL history to go to the Pro Bowl as a starter at two positions (WR/PR).
Entering his third season in the league, he has amassed 125 receptions for 2,079 yards and 11 TDs.
Bob Sanders: 5'8
Safety Bob Sanders missed the majority of the 2009 campaign due to an arm injury which occurred on November 6, 2009 and was only able to participate in two games.
However, in those two games, Sanders was off to a hot start, recording six tackles and two interceptions.
I'm including Sanders on this list because, when healthy, his talents can't be denied.
Since being drafted by the Colts in 2004, Sanders resume has become quite extensive, amassing many awards. Here is a list of those awards:
Two-time All Pro selection (2005, 2007)
Two-time Pro Bowl selection (2005, 2007)
2007 AP Defensive Player of the Year
2007 GMC Defensive Player of the Year
2007 AFC Defensive Player of the Year
Super Bowl Champion
Obviously 2007 was a good year for Sanders!
Steve Smith: 5'9
Steve Smith started his NFL legacy as a third round draft pick (74th overall) in the 2001 Draft.
As most players do, Smith started out on special teams for the Carolina Panthers, where he led all rookies in net yardage, notching 1,994 yards. He was fourth in the NFL in net yards that season, sitting behind Priest Holmes, Marshall Faulk, and Derrick Mason.
It was during the 2002 season that Smith was awarded with a starting WR role for the Panthers, but he also remained the team's go—to man for punt and kickoff duties.
Coming into his 10th season in the NFL, Smith has recorded 574 receptions for 8,330 yards and 50 touchdowns.
Regardless of who is manning the QB position, teams have to keep four eyes on Smith at all times!
Maurice Jones-Drew: 5'7
Maurice Jones-Drew was named the starting running back for the 2009 season.
Jones-Drew had a record-breaking season for the Jaguars in 2009. In a 30-13 loss in Tennessee during Week Eight, Jones-Drew rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns (80 yards and 79 yards) on only eight carries.
This performance tied Hall of Famer Barry Sanders' record of rushing for two touchdowns of 75 yards or more in a single game, which was set by Sanders in a Week Seven game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 12th, 1997.
Jones-Drew became the third player to share the record, as San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore also tied Sanders' record in a Week Two game against the Seattle Seahawks during the same season.
At season's end, Jones-Drew compiled some nice statistics.
He rushed for 1,391 yards on 312 attempts (4.5 YPC) and 15 TD's. He was also one of the big components in the Jaguars passing attack, as he had 53 receptions for 374 yards and a TD.
In an article by Thomas George, Maurice Jones-Drew was recognized as one of the most versatile backs currently in the NFL.
Jones-Drew was a 2009 Pro Bowl selection behind Chris Johnson; however, he rushed for only 30 yards on five carries.
Darren Sproles: 5'6
Don't blink, because if you do this 5'6" San Diego Chargers RB will leave you in the dust. If a defensive player gets in his way, he takes the risk of getting run over.
Sproles was drafted in the fourth round (130th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft and loomed in the background as the team's third-string RB behind LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner.
In 2007, Sproles became the first NFL player since Dante Hall (in 2003) to return both a kickoff (89 yards) and punt return (46 yards) for touchdowns in the same game.
During the matchup against the Denver Broncos on September 14, 2008, Sproles again showed why he should be considered a threat in the backfield as he went on to register 317 all—purpose yards.
He also notched a 103-yard TD return in that game.
Sproles is currently San Diego's main man, as Tomlinson is now with the New York Jets and Turner is entering his third season as the Atlanta Falcons' starter.
He's one of the shortest in the league, but boy does this back pack a punch!
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