STRENGTHS Eye-popping long speed. Athletic with outstanding play speed and not just a straight-line “track guy”. Can access the nitrous out of his breaks and leave defenders with recovery work to do. Speed outs, whip routes and drags will always be open. Subtle but shifty in space and shows ability to find daylight if help doesn’t come flying in after the catch. Has four kick return touchdowns during career. Torched LSU with 10 catches for 125 yards and three touchdowns in the Texas Bowl including a 46-yarder against CB Tre’Davious White.
WEAKNESSES Hard to ignore his diminutive frame. Scouts are concerned about ability to hold up against NFL hitters. Small catch radius requires more accurate quarterback. Gears down unnecessarily at times within his routes. Limited route runner on collegiate level and often used as “catch and run” weapon. Average ball tracker down the field. Tagged with 23 drops over last three seasons. Gets in hurry as kick returner and needs more patience.
DRAFT PROJECTION Rounds 6 or 7
NFL COMPARISON Trindon Holliday
BOTTOM LINE Grant’s size will immediately eliminate him from many draft boards, but teams looking for pure speed, a kick returner and a slot option who can add new wrinkles to an offense may have Grant on a target list. Grant might be small, but he doesn’t play small and hes certainly not a novelty act. Grant’s pro day workout might have created enough buzz to warrant a third-day selection
The NFL schedule was released on Thursday which means it’s time to break down the Dolphins opponents week-by-week and make predictions.
It’s an inane activity. We have no idea what the Dolphins and their opponents will look like when they actually face off. The draft isn’t for another two weeks. And, of course, the better team doesn’t always win.
Bovada currently has the Dolphins at +6600 to win the Super Bowl, which is tied for 28th in the NFL.
Week 1 at Seattle
Seahawks odds of winning Super Bowl (per Bovada): +1000 (t-2nd in NFL)
The last time the Dolphins faced the Seahawks, quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson were both rookies and Miami won 24-21 at Sun Life Stadium. The teams have gone in opposite directions since then — Seattle has become one of the NFL’s top teams and the Dolphins continue to hover around .500 or worse.
The Seahawks are again among the league favorites and there’s no reason to think the Dolphins will go in to Seattle on opening week and pull off an upset.
Week 2 at New England
Patriots Super Bowl odds: +600 (1st in NFL)
The Dolphins have matched up surprisingly well against the Patriots in recent years but that still has meant a split at best. Miami hasn’t won in New England since the Wildcat game in 2008.
Last year, the Dolphins were a trendy pick to end the Patriots’ AFC East dominance. This year, nobody is expecting Miami to come close to New England.
Week 3 vs. Cleveland
Browns Super Bowl odds: +15000 (t-worst in NFL)
The Dolphins open their home schedule against one of the only teams in the league with lower expectations than Miami.
The Browns have been a perennial bottom-feeder and it’s looking like more of the same this year. They have holes all over the roster and they’ve brought in baseball analytics guru Paul DePodesta to turn things around. Maybe Robert Griffin III is the answer. But probably not.
Week 4 at Cincinnati (Thursday night)
Bengals Super Bowl odds: +2000 (t-8th in NFL)
First-year Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will get an early-season game against his former team. Joseph spent the last two season as Cincinnati’s defensive backs coach. And the Bengals once again have a talented secondary.
Cincinnati is a well-rounded team coming off a disappointing playoff appearance that ended in a heartbreaking loss to Pittsburgh. The Dolphins won a memorable home Thursday night against the Bengals in 2013 off a game-winning Cam Wake safety in overtime. This time, the Bengals win the prime time matchup.
Week 5 vs. Tennessee
Titans Super Bowl odds: +15000 (t-worst in NFL)
A year after crushing the Titans 38-10 in interim coach Dan Campbell’s memorable debut, the Dolphins will host Tennessee. After winning three games last year, the Titans have nowhere to go but up behind second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The Titans gave up the No. 1 overall pick in this month’s NFL Draft, dropping all the way to No. 15 and acquiring a lot of draft picks in the process. They also traded for running back DeMarco Murray this offseason. This will be a close game, but Dolphins pull it off at home.
Week 6 vs. Pittsburgh
Steelers Super Bowl odds: +1200 (t-4th in NFL)
The Steelers are coming off a 10-6 season and a second-round playoff appearance. There should be more of the same expectations for a team that has championship aspirations.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell make up one of the league’s most potent offenses.
Week 7 vs. Buffalo
Bills Super Bowl odds: +5000 (t-17th in NFL)
The Bills have become Dolphins killers in recent years — Buffalo’s won five of the last six games against Miami. The Bills outscored the Dolphins 74-31 in their two meetings last year. This time, the Dolphins have defensive end Mario Williams — who crushed the Dolphins repeatedly as a member of the Bills — on their side.
But the Bills still have Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams. This is a winnable game for the Dolphins, but it’s hard to pick them to defeat Buffalo.
Week 8 (bye)
Week 9 vs. New York Jets
Jets Super Bowl odds: +5000 (t-17th in NFL)
The Dolphins and Jets have a strange rivalry where the opposing fans can drown out the home fans in both stadiums. The Jets typically play well in Miami and they’ll make this one close — but Dolphins coach Adam Gase will come up with a solid game plan on two weeks of preparation. The Jets will be playing their second consecutive road game after traveling to Cleveland the week before.
If Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick returns, they’ll closely resemble last year’s team. If he’s not back, they could be relying on Geno Smith, who has been bad against most teams but had a perfect passer rating in Miami in the 2014 season finale. The Jets added veteran running back Matt Forte this offseason.
Week 10 at San Diego
Chargers Super Bowl odds: +5000 (t-17 in the NFL)
The Dolphins defeated the Chargers in Miami in both 2013 and 2014 — that included a 37-0 trashing two seasons ago. But last year, a bad Chargers team — playing in an emotionally charged atmosphere in what they thought was their last-ever game in San Diego — defeated Miami 30-14.
The Dolphins are at their best against San Diego when they can consistently pressure Philip Rivers. So this could come down to how Cam Wake rebounds from his injury and how Mario Williams plays this season. For now, let’s expect the Dolphins to rebound against the Chargers.
Week 11 at Los Angeles
Rams Super Bowl odds: +5000 (t-17 in NFL)
The Rams made a blockbuster trade on Thursday, moving all the way up to the No. 1 overall pick to select quarterback Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. They already have a solid defense. If the rookie quarterback develops in to a quality player, they could suddenly have a potent offense with running back Todd Gurley already in place.
The Dolphins run defense has been one of their biggest weaknesses for years. Will Gurley run all over Miami at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum? It’s possible.
Week 12 vs. San Francisco
49ers Super Bowl odds: +6600 (t-28th in NFL)
The 49ers have a starting quarterback in Colin Kaepernick that they obviously don’t want and a roster that has holes all over the place. This is a bad team that the Dolphins should be able to defeat at home.
The Dolphins didn’t defeat the 49ers between 1983-2001 but have split the last four games with San Francisco.
Week 13 at Baltimore
Ravens Super Bowl odds: +3300 (16th in NFL)
Here come the Ravens, a team that might as well be in the AFC East. This will be the fourth consecutive year that the Dolphins play the Ravens. Miami finally snapped its five-game skid against Baltimore with a 15-13 win in December. But the Ravens were decimated, losing a bunch of key players including quarterback Joe Flacco.
The Ravens are healthy again and have added former Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace. He was a disappointment in Minnesota last year but will undoubtedly look to have a big game against the Dolphins.
Week 14 vs. Arizona
Cardinals Super Bowl odds: +1600 (t-6th in NFL)
The Cardinals are coming off a 13-3 season that ended in a humiliating 49-15 loss to the Panthers in the NFC title game. But the Cardinals will be dangerous again behind one of the league’s top defenses and a high-powered offense.
Quarterback Carson Palmer, who will be turning 37 next season, isn’t showing much signs of slowing down. Injuries are always a concern with him.
Week 15 at New York Jets (Saturday night)
Jets Super Bowl odds: +5000 (t-17 in NFL)
See previous Jets entry. The road team always seems to do well in this series. But after picking the Dolphins to win in Week 9, I’ll go with the Jets at home on a Saturday night nationally televised game.
Week 16 at Buffalo (Saturday, 1 p.m.)
Bills Super Bowl odds: +5000 (t-17 in NFL)
This is a Saturday game, but it’s part of the NFL’s normal schedule — the majority of the games in Week 16 will be played on Christmas Eve Saturday, not Christmas Sunday. The Dolphins haven’t won in Buffalo since 2011 and lately they’ve been losing by a wide margin.
Week 17 vs. New England
Patriots Super Bowl odds: +600 (1st in NFL)
At this point fans will be ready for a long season to end and they’ll be talking about the NFL Draft. And of course, the Dolphins will defeat the Patriots to end the season on a high note but keep them out of a top two or three draft spot.
Adam Gase has all the makings of a good NFL coach but it takes time to rebuild a team in your image. By this account, the Dolphins would finish 6-10, which would be the same as last year’s record.
The Dolphins would need everything to go right to have a respectable season. Ryan Tannehill would have to emerge under Gase’s tutelage. The running back situation would have to work itself out. DeVante Parker would have to break out as a stud outside receiver.
On defense, pass rushers Cam Wake and Mario Williams would have to play like they’re closer to their prime than retirement. Linebacker Kiko Alonso would have to resemble the player who was dominant as a rookie in Buffalo. The secondary would have to exceed expectations.
After a quiet offseason that saw the Dolphins seemingly lose more than they gained, on paper it looks like Miami is in line for a long season. Then again, on paper the Dolphins looked like contenders last year, so that doesn’t always tell the story.
The 2016 NFL schedule is out, and the Dolphins — as expected — have 16 games, some of which they’ll win and some of which they won’t. How do you think they’ll fare? Vote now on whether they’ll win or lose each game.