Is Jakeem Grant in danger of getting cut?

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 11: Wide receiver Jakeem Grant
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 11: Wide receiver Jakeem Grant /

The Dolphins selected Jakeem Grant in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. A year later, his place on the team could be in jeopardy.

The Miami Dolphins surprised many in 2016 when they selected two wide receivers in the NFL Draft. Leonte Carroo was initially drafted as a possible replacement for Kenny Stills if the team was going to lose him in free agency this past offseason. Jakeem Grant, on the other hand, was drafted primarily for punt/kickoff returns. Recent struggles, however, could mean that Grant may be left off the final 53-man roster.

Carroo’s spot looks to be safe for the time being even though Stills had an excellent 2016 season, and is still on the team. Miami rewarded Stills with a new four-year deal back in March. The Dolphins moved up in the draft to take Carroo in the third round, and early reports out of training camp is that he is performing well. He also appears to be in terrific shape so it makes sense that Miami is not yet ready to give up on Carroo.

As for Grant, he failed to see the field in 2016 except for special teams. The Dolphins rely heavily on the success of their special teams, and are one of the better teams in the league at doing so. This is evidenced by the long tenure of special teams coach Darren Rizzi, who has been with the team since 2010. Rizzi was the only coach that Adam Gase kept on his staff when he became the head coach.

The Dolphins drafted Grant thinking that he could improve the team’s average starting position. He served as Miami’s primary punt returner last year, where he fared well, even returning one for a touchdown. On kickoff returns, however, he wasn’t nearly as impressive, and was outperformed by teammate Kenyan Drake.

Grant finished the season averaging 23.1 yards per kickoff return, whereas, Drake finished with over 30. Heading into training camp this season, the coaching staff again wants to see Grant as their primary return man, but he’s not doing himself any favors. During Sunday’s practice, Grant had troubles holding on to the football.

The best way to anger your coach at any level is to drop the football. The fact that Grant did it twice in one practice does not bode well for his chances. It probably did not sit well with Grant when he later found out that the Dolphins had invited yet another wide receiver to training camp.

Jordan Westerkamp is not expected to make the team at this time, but Grant can’t like his chances when the team continues to add depth at the position. In fact, none of the other wide receivers fighting for a roster spot could be thrilled with the news either. Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Stills are guaranteed roster spots, but the other two or three spots are up for grabs at the moment. As previously mentioned, Carroo will likely be given the nod prior to Week 1. That leaves just one, maybe two spots available among a handful of players.

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Some good news for Grant is that Drake struggled some today with handling returns so the job may still be his for now. It’s not good news for the coaching staff and Dolphins fans, however, when their lead returners are having trouble handling kicks. As it stands, Grant is probably the fifth receiver, but if he doesn’t show some improvements then it would not be a surprise to see Miami move on. Other valuable receivers and/or returners are expected to get cut in the coming weeks so it will only get tougher for the second-year wideout from Texas Tech from here on out.