There was a lot of hype surrounding wide receiver Jakeem Grant when he first arrived at the Dolphins facility. His small stature, big attitude and blazing speed quickly turned him into a fan favorite, and most were excited to see what he could do on the football field.
Unfortunately, Grant's occasional big play on special teams was not enough to outweigh his multiple errors in handling the ball, and that helped contribute to his only receiving a total of 19 snaps on offense in 2016, causing many to wonder if Grant was really nothing more than just an occasional gimmick player.
Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen didn't deny Grant's potential as a gimmick player, but he also made it clear that he expects more from him in the future.
"Gimmick is kind of a demeaning word but he’s so darn explosive." said Christensen. "I think he should be a highlight film. His big plays per snap ought to be a huge number. We’re always looking for ways to get him on the field. Some of it we’ll learn how to use him better. Some of it he’ll become a better player and a more mature player and understand the offense better."
Grant, who ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash, has the athleticism and speed to be a spectacular weapon in any offense, but his consistency has been questionable, and Christensen mentioned that it was important that he learn the offense more, indicating that Grant wasn't quite up to snuff in 2016.
"He has to learn the offense better and I think he’ll do that, but look to see him maybe a little bit more outside and mix it in." Christensen said. "We can stick him out there away from trips and get some one on ones out there. He’s a scary guy one or one. So we’re experimenting with some new things. Or different things, not new. But just some different places for him just to find a little niche for him to get a bigger role."
With his size, speed and athleticism, Grant could potentially carve out a niche for himself as a Darren Sproles-type player in an offense, and there's no doubting that Grant has the necessary confidence to succeed in the NFL.
He was a big-play phenom at Texas Tech, and he did score a touchdown on a punt return in 2016, so with any luck, his second year in the NFL will lead to increased production and even more highlight reel plays, as he continues learning what it means to be an NFL player.
"The theme of this thing, I just think that second year through, all of a sudden you get it." Christensen said. "You figure it out a little bit. And I think that will be the case with him. He’ll figure out a little bit. We’ll figure it out a little bit more and then I think you’ll see him play some bigger chunks and more snaps."
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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