10 Shortest Players In NFL History – Small Stature, Big Impact

The National Football League (NFL) is renowned for its towering athletes, colossal in both stature and talent. However, the league has also been home to players who, despite their shorter stature, have left an indelible mark on the game. This article discusses the lives and careers of the ten shortest players in NFL history, exploring their journeys, achievements, and the immense impact they’ve had on the sport.

10. Bob Sanders (5’8″)

Bob Sanders
Source: colts.com

Bob Sanders, another player at 5 feet 8 inches, is a retired safety known for his hard-hitting style and leadership. Sanders’ intensity and playmaking ability have earned him a revered place in NFL history.

Career Achievements

Sanders, primarily playing for the Indianapolis Colts, has earned two Pro Bowl selections and a Defensive Player of the Year award. His leadership and impactful plays were pivotal in the Colts’ Super Bowl XLI victory.


Bob Sanders’ illustrious career has inspired many, demonstrating that leadership and intensity can compensate for a lack of height. His impact on the game has been substantial, serving as a role model for aspiring players who wish to make their mark in the NFL.

9. Dexter McCluster (5’8″)

Dexter McCluster
Source: bleacherreport.com

Dexter McCluster, at 5 feet 8 inches, is a former versatile player who excelled as a running back, wide receiver, and return specialist. McCluster’s versatility and agility have made him a valuable asset to his teams.

Career Highlights

McCluster, a Pro Bowl selectee in 2013, played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans, among others. His ability to switch roles seamlessly and contribute in multiple facets of the game made him a unique and dynamic player.

Contributions to the Sport

Dexter McCluster’s multifaceted career has showcased the importance of adaptability and versatility in the NFL. His journey is motivational, proving that with skill and determination, one can overcome physical limitations and succeed at the highest level.

8. Mark McMillian (5’7″)

Source: espnsiouxfalls.com

Mark McMillian, standing at 5 feet 7 inches, is a former cornerback who played for multiple teams in the NFL. McMillian’s tenacity and ball skills have earned him respect among peers and fans alike.

Career Journey

McMillian, despite being one of the smallest cornerbacks in the league, had a knack for intercepting passes, earning him the nickname “Mighty Mouse.” His ability to read quarterbacks and make plays was instrumental in his successful career.

Impact on the Game

Mark McMillian’s career is a beacon for aspiring cornerbacks who may lack height but possess the heart and skill to succeed. His story is a reminder that with belief and effort, anyone can defy the odds and achieve greatness in the NFL.

7. Wes Welker (5’9″)

Wes Welker
Source: patspulpit.com

Wes Welker, another player at 5 feet 9 inches, is a former wide receiver and return specialist. Welker’s precision and reliability have established him as one of the most productive slot receivers in NFL history.

Career Highlights

Welker has been selected to the Pro Bowl five times and has earned two First-team All-Pro selections. His chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady during his time with the New England Patriots resulted in numerous records and high-octane offensive displays.


Wes Welker’s journey in the NFL has been a source of inspiration for many, illustrating the power of perseverance and precision. His achievements have shown that with the right mindset and work ethic, size can be an advantage rather than a limitation.

6. Steve Smith Sr. (5’9″)

Steve Smith Jr.
Source: espn.com

Steve Smith Sr., at 5 feet 9 inches, is a retired wide receiver known for his fiery competitiveness and exceptional receiving skills. Smith’s illustrious career is a testament to his relentless pursuit of excellence.

Career Overview

Smith, primarily playing for the Carolina Panthers, has earned five Pro Bowl selections and two First-team All-Pro honors. His aggressive playing style and impeccable route running have made him one of the most respected receivers in the league.

Impact on the NFL

Steve Smith Sr.’s remarkable career has inspired countless individuals, proving that passion and commitment can triumph over physical constraints. His contributions to the game have left an enduring impact, demonstrating the boundless possibilities within the sport.

5. Maurice Jones-Drew (5’7″)

Maurice Jones-Drew
Source: espn.com

Maurice Jones-Drew, standing at 5 feet 7 inches, is a retired running back who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Oakland Raiders. His powerful running style and exceptional skills have earned him a spot among the NFL’s elite.

Career Achievements

Jones-Drew’s career is adorned with numerous accolades, including three Pro Bowl selections and two First-team All-Pro honors. His ability to break tackles and gain extra yards made him one of the most productive running backs during his tenure.


Maurice Jones-Drew’s impact on the game is profound, serving as a role model for those who face skepticism due to their size. His career is a shining example of how determination, coupled with talent, can overcome physical limitations.

4. Tarik Cohen (5’6″)

Tarik Cohen
Source: theplayerstribune.com

Tarik Cohen, another 5 feet 6 inches marvel, is known for his electrifying plays and versatility, contributing significantly to his team’s offensive and special teams units.

Career Highlights

Cohen, a running back for the Chicago Bears, has been a revelation since his debut, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2018. His elusive running style and ability to catch passes have made him a dual threat, keeping opposing defenses on their toes.

Influence on the Sport

Cohen’s success has further solidified the notion that size does not equate to capability in the NFL. His dynamic playstyle and accomplishments continue to motivate aspiring players, proving that with hard work and dedication, anyone can reach the pinnacle of the sport.

3. Jacquizz Rodgers (5’6″)

jacquizz Rodgers
Source: espn.com

Jacquizz Rodgers, another player standing at 5 feet 6 inches, has carved out a successful career in the NFL as a running back, defying the odds stacked against him due to his stature.

Career Journey

Rodgers, with his robust build and low center of gravity, played for teams like the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His ability to change direction swiftly made him a formidable opponent, allowing him to navigate through defenses with ease.

Impact and Contributions

Rodgers’ journey in the NFL serves as a beacon of hope for aspiring players who may not fit the conventional physical mold of an NFL athlete. His achievements underscore the importance of skill, determination, and adaptability in professional sports.

2. Darren Sproles (5’6″)

Darren Sproles
Source: espn.com

Darren Sproles, another diminutive dynamo, stands at 5 feet 6 inches. Sproles, with his exceptional athleticism and versatility, has had a prolific career, earning him three Pro Bowl selections.

Career Overview

  • Teams: San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Achievements: 3× Pro Bowl, 2× First-team All-Pro
  • Career Duration: 2005-2019

Sproles is celebrated for his versatility, excelling as a running back, return specialist, and receiver. His multifaceted skill set allowed coaches to utilize him in various roles, making him a valuable asset to his teams.


Darren Sproles’ illustrious career has inspired many, illustrating that height is not a barrier to achieving greatness in the NFL. His resilience and multifaceted talents have paved the way for other compact players to dream big and pursue careers in professional football.

1. Trindon Holliday (5’5″)

Trindon Holiday
Source: usatoday.com

Trindon Holliday, standing at a mere 5 feet 5 inches, is a former NFL player known for his explosive speed and agility. Despite his smaller frame, Holliday has proven that size isn’t a determinant of success in the NFL.

Career Highlights

Trindon Holliday, primarily a return specialist, played for several teams, including the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos. His agility and speed made him a significant threat during kick and punt returns, often leaving opponents trailing in his wake. Holliday is renowned for scoring multiple return touchdowns, showcasing his remarkable playmaking ability.

Impact on the Game

Holliday’s success has been inspirational for aspiring athletes, demonstrating that with determination and skill, size can be overcome. His legacy is a testament to the diversity of talent within the NFL, proving that smaller players can indeed excel in a sport dominated by giants.


Have any of the shortest players in the NFL been inducted into the Hall of Fame?

None of the players listed as the shortest players in the NFL have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, this does not diminish their significant contributions and impact on the game.

How were these shorter players able to compete effectively against larger opponents?

These players leveraged their unique skill sets, agility, speed, and determination to compete effectively. Their lower center of gravity often allowed for enhanced stability and quick directional changes, making them elusive and difficult for larger opponents to tackle.

Additionally, their work ethic, resilience, and mental toughness played crucial roles in their ability to succeed in the NFL.

Did the shorter stature of these players affect their draft positions?

In many cases, shorter players have been overlooked and underestimated, often affecting their draft positions. Teams sometimes prioritize physical attributes, leading to smaller players being drafted in later rounds or going undrafted.

However, the players listed have proven that size is not the only indicator of success in the NFL.

Have any of the shortest players in the NFL received any league MVP awards?

None of the mentioned shortest players in the NFL have received the league MVP award. However, many have received other accolades and recognitions for their performances, such as Pro Bowl selections and All-Pro honors.

Are there specific positions in the NFL more suited to shorter players?

While there is no strict rule, certain positions like running back and slot receiver may be more accommodating to shorter players due to the emphasis on agility, speed, and the ability to navigate through tight spaces.

Return specialists in special teams can also leverage speed and elusiveness, making height less of a critical factor.

Have the shortest players in the NFL faced any specific challenges due to their height?

They often face skepticism and doubts regarding their ability to compete at the highest level due to perceived disadvantages in reach, strength, and visibility on the field. They may also face challenges in aerial duels and in situations where reach is crucial.

However, many have overcome these challenges through skill, determination, and by leveraging the advantages their stature provides, such as a lower center of gravity and quickness.

Final Words

The journeys of these ten players exemplify that size is not the sole determinant of success in the NFL. Their stories are filled with determination, resilience, and a relentless pursuit of excellence, proving that with the right mindset and skill set, anyone can achieve greatness in the world of professional football.

These players have not only broken stereotypes but have also paved the way for future generations to dream big and challenge the norms.

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