In today’s NFL, bigger seems to be better. It used to be you could expect the best collegiate players to fair well at the next level, regardless of their size. With the combine now in place, smaller players have to suffer from severe cases of Napoleon complex to even get a shot. The league’s players have grown almost as fast as its popularity.
The Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers are two teams that have not shied away from putting the smaller folk into the ring, however. When the two teams take to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday you’ll see proof in running backs Jamaal Charles and Danny Woodhead. Both are under 6-foot tall, weigh 200-pounds or less, and are having terrific sixth seasons in the league.
Charles, drafted in the third round, is currently sixth in rushing with 186 attempts and 803 yards. He is Kansas City’s third leading receiver with 49 catches for 383 yards. No. 25 has scored 50 percent of his team’s touchdowns this season and is second in the league in overall offensive production.
Jamaal has the advantage of being the Chiefs starting running back; he also has three inches on San Diego’s No. 39, but Woodhead outweighs Charles by a pound. He was undrafted out of Div. II Chadron State (NE) and has had to fight a lot harder to get to this level. Woodhead, however, leads all RBs this year in both catches with 54 and receiving yardage with 424.
Keep in mind that the Chargers picked up their smaller than usual back to replace little RB Darren Sproles, who is now with the New Orleans Saints. In 2007, while still in San Diego, Sproles became the first player since 2003 to return both a punt and kickoff return for a TD in the same game. The most recent player to do so was Kansas City’s multi-faceted (yet small) Dante Hall.
Add in that this season Charles is losing a lot of targets to teammate slot receiver Dexter McCluster, and you’ll see that neither AFC West franchise is suffering from Little Man’s syndrome — they’re living by it.
All of the players aforementioned are listed under 6-foot and 200-pounds or less. All five have had major success either in San Diego or with the Chiefs. There’s gonna be a good featherweight fight on Sunday in Kansas City, and no one’s bringing pillows.
Well I can’t speak for 6-foot-5 229-pound Philip Rivers or his slightly smaller counterpart Alex Smith when it comes to that, but the little guys will be throwing real punches.
Troy Alan is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TRantMedia.