Most people root for underdogs. We all want NFL “Rudy” stories. We want the Cinderella story of the little guy beating the big bad.
We must face reality. NFL players are enormous. Big guys win.
A few little players occasionally disrupt the NFL. They’ll outrun, jump over, and beat larger opponents.
Here’s a list of Shortest NFL Players.
Perhaps little packages contain great surprises.
10. Jim Leonhard 5.8-foot
Unknown yet outstanding player.
Strong Safety Jim Leonhard decided to leave Buffalo and Baltimore because he wasn’t getting enough playing time because of his size.
It was with the Jets. Leonhard agreed to start when the Jets promised it.
In 2009, he started 16 games at Strong Safety. By anyone’s standards, he did well.
76 tackles, 5 pass deflections, 2.5 sacks, 2 turnovers.
Leonhard is a smart football player. He’s the Jets’ top-ranked defensive “quarterback.” He calls the play and explains it to the gathering. He predicts the quarterback’s moves and knows when to employ his speed.
His main drawback is that he’s small.
We’ll hear more about this gritty Strong Safety in his sixth NFL season.
9. Trindon Holliday (5’5)
I know he’s a rookie, but I couldn’t pass up this Texans player. 5.05 “Smallest NFL player, Holliday. He’s swift, too.
Holliday was a fast LSU sprinter. National track contests. He qualified for the 2007 World Championship Athletics, however he didn’t travel.
He prefers LSU. Holliday burned defenders. No one could grab him despite being little. After graduating from LSU, Holliday decided to enter the NFL draught.
The Texans chose this kick/punt returner in the sixth round of 2010.
His new team is practising.
I think this will be the next NFL success story.
8. Wes Welker (5’9″ 185)
Wide receiver Wes Welker is a household name. Few realise how little this receiver is. Five-foot-nine “185 pounds but a tremendous Patriots playmaker.
Welker was waived by the Chargers in 2004. After that, he became the Dolphins’ third receiver. He became the team’s leading receiver after posting impressive stats.
A shambolic Miami offence didn’t help Welker reach his full potential.
Welker joined the Patriots in 2007. Then he shined. He was a clutch receiver. He always passed defenders with his speed and shiftiness.
In the 2007, 2008, and 2009 seasons, Welker received over 1,100 yards each year. In 2009, he attained 1,348 yards in only 13 games. 2007 and 2009, he topped the league in catches.
He’s got the numbers. This NFL star has made two Pro Bowls. He’s a top-tier receiver.
7. Ray Rice 5’8″
True. Running backs typically weigh 212 pounds. But he is pretty short and really productive. Rice employs pure toughness and quickness to overcome his diminutive frame.
Baltimore drafted Rice in 2008. He had to split his carries with both Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain. He had 727 offensive yards. But touchdowns were stolen by McGahee and McClain.
Ravens saw his potential. He was the Ravens’ every-down back in 2009.
He had 2,041 yards and 8 touchdowns.
In his second season, he made the Pro Bowl.
This young runner has a bright NFL future.
6. Bob Sanders (5’8″ 205)
Bob Sanders dominates as a strong safety. Despite being shorter than most players, he takes advantage of any opportunity.
When healthy, Sanders is one of the fastest, toughest defenders on the field.
Because of his powerful hits, teammates and coaches call him “The Hitman.”
He was drafted in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He has stayed with the Colts ever since.
In 2007, he had 96 tackles and multiple turnovers.
When healthy, Sanders is a wonderful teammate and football decision-maker.
Sanders has never played an entire season. Throughout his entire time with the Colts, he has been plagued by season ending injuries. In 2006, he only played 4 games. Eight games in the last two NFL seasons.
At 29, he can make up for lost time.
Sanders has succeeded despite many injuries.
Sanders is a 2x Pro Bowler, DPOY, and Superbowl champion.
5. DeSean Jackson (5’10” 175)
Jackson is the opposite of Ray Rice. He is relatively short for a receiver, but not too much shorter. He’s lighter. Today’s NFL receivers weigh 175 pounds. But that doesn’t stop this deep threat from burning defenders game after game.
Jackson joined the Eagles in 2008. As a rookie he recorded 1,448 all-purpose yards working as a receiver and punt returner.
The Eagles realised this small rookie’s talent and set him up for the starting role.
Jackson had 1,734 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2009. A crazy fast 4.35 40 yard dash, Jackson leaves defenders in the dust. You can outrun everyone without being big.
Jackson is already a Pro Bowler, and he is just getting started.
In the next few years, Jackson could become the top receiver in the NFL, dominating defences every single Game Day.
4. Antoine Winfield 5’9″
Antoine Winfield of the Vikings has the most NFL experience.
One of the best corners in the game today, Pro Bowler Antoine Winfield is known for his earth-shattering hits on the field. He’s an 11-year veteran with big hits left.
His career started in 1999, when the Buffalo Bills drafted Winfield in the first round of the NFL Draft.
At such a small height, many critics doubted he could defend the average height of 6’2″ for receivers in the NFL. He had to overcome his doubts. Likewise.
He started in 2001. Winfield’s bone-crushing tackles made him famous. In 2003, he had 107 tackles, 3 turnovers, and 11 deflected passes for Buffalo
Winfield joined the Minnesota Vikings in 2004 and his career took off. Winfield created turnovers and pressured the quarterback. And he still accomplishes the same feats today, six years later.
740 tackles, 32 turnovers, 2 defensive touchdowns, 71 deflected passes, and a few blocked field goals.
Two Pro Bowls in two years.
His expertise has made him a top cornerback. He can read and play quarterbacks. Often makes tackles. And he’s a linebacker.
For his size, he’s one of the league’s hardest-hitting defenders.
3. Steve Smith 5.9
Smith, maybe the NFL’s smallest dangerous, fast, and hot-tempered receiver, keeps defenders guessing and debating week after week.
Smith is a nine-year veteran with plenty of gas. Since 2001, he’s been a Panther.
Smith holds records for receiving/punt and kick returning.
Smith has topped 1,000 yards six times in nine NFL seasons. He led all NFL receivers in every major statistic in 2005. He had the most receptions (103), receiving yards (1,563), and receiving touchdowns (12). (12).
Four Pro Bowls and 8,500 receiving yards.
He’s returned just under 4,000 kicks/punts.
Smith is an extremely versatile player with great speed and amazing hands.
At the age of 31, Smith is still one of the best receivers in the game today.
2. Jones-Drew (5’7″ 210)
One of the most versatile running backs in the game today, Jones-Drew can pound it through the line for a first down.
Or he can split the defence and score an 80-yard touchdown. Or he can run a 20 yard pattern and catch a deep pass, acting as a receiver. Every team needs an every-down back like him.
57-inch “Every NFL player wants to be Goliath. Anything.
After two above-average seasons as Jacksonville’s second-string running back, Jones-Drew started in 2009. Then, he really broke out.
He had 1,765 YAC and 16 TDs. He also returned kicks.
Jones-Drew, a Pro-Bowler and one of the best backs in the game, exemplifies NFL superstar talent in a smaller body.
1. Darren Sproles (5’6″)
Of course, this San Diego running back tops the list. Sproles represents NFL’s underdogs. Easily one of the most versatile players in the league, Sproles has the perfect blend of rushing, receiving, and returning skills in the NFL.
He has set a large number of records involving kick/punt return, rushing, and receiving yard combos in single games and throughout the season.
In 2005, Chargers drafted Sproles in the fourth round. Third-string RB. He was mainly an unbelievable kick/punt returner who started to get noticed for his ability.
But he missed the entire 2006 season due to an ankle injury, and he fell off the radar again.
In 2007, he moved up to the second string running back. He played some offence, but mostly special teams.
Finally in 2008, he got his chance. LaDainian Tomlinson sustained an injury in a playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Sproles absolutely exploded against the Colts, running for two touchdowns, one being the game winner. But what really impressed were his perfect blend of rushing, receiving, and kick-return yards. He obtained 328 all-purpose yards, the third most in NFL postseason history.
Now a mini sensation, Sproles started to get the attention of every team in the NFL. He surprised everyone with his ridiculous speed and the inability of other players to tackle him.
In 2009, the Chargers had him rushing beside Tomlinson as the starter. He developed into one of the most versatile players in the league. He accumulated 2,323 all-purpose yards and 8 touchdowns for the season. He wasn’t even the sole running back, yet.
In 2010, the Chargers dropped Tomlinson and named Sproles the starting back for the team.
Now teams are designing game plans just to stop him.
He has over 5,000 kick return yards, 900 rushing yards, 900 receiving yards, and 1,000 punt return yards through a four season career. And he was never even the starter.
In the open field he is unstoppable. He has speed and moves like no one else in the NFL.
He is the best little man in the game today.