Miami Dolphins fans have gotten used to seeing #14, Jarvis Landry, waiting for the ball to come down off the foot of the opposition’s kicker or punter over the past 2 seasons. But in 2016 you may be seeing someone else standing in his place.The 2016 NFL draft produced two rookies who have the ability, desire and opportunity to ease the burden off Landry.
Both 3rd round pick Kenyan Drake and 6th round pick Jakeen Grant; have extensive experience in the return game, from their college days. Although both players were primarily kick-off returners, at least one of them may get the opportunity to return punts, also.
Kenyon Drake is the all-everything running back from Alabama. Last year he returned 19 kick-offs for the Crimson Tide, scoring a touchdown and averaging over 26 yards per return. Jakeem Grant whose nickname is “Mighty Mouse”, stands just 5-6 tall, but has blazing speed. Grant returned 4 kick-offs for touchdowns in his college career, including 2 scores in 2015. He also averaged over 26 yards per return.
If Drake or Grant is unable to step up, the Dolphins also have former Indianapolis Colt, Griff Whalen. Though not as explosive as the two rookies, he has returned 25 kicks in his 3 NFL seasons. Whalen can also return punts, and has 46 career returns to his credit, as well.
Even with all the hype the fresh faces bring into the 2016 season, I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Jarvis Landry handling at least some of the return duties, again. He has averaged 27 yards per kick-off return and 9.2 on punt returns, including a touchdown in his career. His reliability is unquestioned, but there is question as to all the extra hits he may take returning punts and kicks.
Landry is coming off a pro-bowl receiving season and the Dolphins may not want to risk losing him to injury, on a return.
But injury concerns aside, Landry is simply too good with the ball in his hands to give any of the returning jobs to another player who doesn’t earn it.