The Size Issue and What the Dolphins Have Done Recently

What have the Miami Dolphins done recently in terms of drafting undersized players?

There are a few polarizing prospects in this 2021 NFL draft, but perhaps none more so than Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith.

Since he's somebody who has been linked as a potential pick for the Miami Dolphins, so it only made sense that General Manager Chris Grier be asked about the idea of drafting a player with less-than-ideal physical dimensions.

And the reason for that is Grier is a disciple of Bill Parcells, who always believed that bigger is better,  and Smith — whose official dimensions have come in at 6 feet, 166 pounds — definitely is not that.

“It's all part of the evaluation," Grier said in his annual pre-draft media session. "But every player tells their own stories. The league has changed as well. There's more rules. It's more of an offensive league. I think what's been evident is that there are a lot of smaller players that have become really good players in this league as well. You always valuate. You always talk about it.

"But again, each player is their own case. And those guys have shown that they've been good players at a high level of play in the SEC. But that goes for a lot of players around the country. I just think the game has changed a little bit, and I think these smaller players are given more room and freedom to showcase their talents.”

The Bill Parcells coaching tree also includes Brian Flores, who served as an assistant under Bill Belichick, who of course was a defensive coordinator for Parcells.

So that's a double dose of Parcells philosophy atop the Dolphins organization.

Now, how has that been reflected in the draft since Flores became Dolphins head coach in 2019?

Have they subscribed to the bigger-is-better theory?

For the most part, the Dolphins selected players the past two drafts who fit the prototypical measurements for their position.

Last year, for example, the Dolphins took three offensive linemen who certainly never would be considered small for the position — Robert Hunt (6-5, 323), Austin Jackson (6-5, 322) and Solomon Kindley (6-3, 337), There also was defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (6-6, 311) and defensive end Jason Strowbridge (6-4, 275).

The two players who bit be considered undersized from the Dolphins' 2020 draft were QB Tua Tagovailoa (6-0, 217) and RB/WR Malcolm Perry (5-9, 186).

Go to 2019, and all six draft picks had prototypical size for their position or close to it. Running back Myles Gaskin was slightly undersized at 5-9, 205, though nothing like Smith is this year.

Looking historically, the Dolphins actually once selected a wide receiver not much bigger than DeVonta Smith — and took him in the first round.

That was Ted Ginn Jr., who was the ninth selection in the 2007 NFL draft. At the combine that year, Ginn came in at a tad over 5-11 and weighing 177 pounds.

As former GM Randy Mueller pointed out, the lack of ideal size didn't stop Ginn from playing in the NFL for more than a decade.

In fact, Ginn still was in the league last season before being released by the Chicago Bears.

In terms of durability, it's interesting to note that Ginn — though he never was a full-time wide receiver — missed only 10 games in his first 11 seasons combined.

Of course, one could point to the draft two years later when taking an undersized prospect did not work out at all for the Dolphins, and that was 2009 when they took West Virginia quarterback Pat White in the second round.