In the last decade or so, the NFL has found amazing value in tough, undersized WRs that run crisp routes and have great hands. Whether or not they can win a jump ball or beat an opposing DB in a footrace is almost irrelevant to the position they play.
Wes Welker was the original example of this, formerly cut by the San Diego Chargers and then turned into a star with the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Since Welker’s retirement, Julian Edelman has been the best example of this, although Cole Beasley has settled into a similar role with the Dallas Cowboys.
Danny Woodhead, who played the role of RB but mostly caught passes out of the backfield, filled this role for the Chargers before signing with the Baltimore Ravens this offseason. Tom Telesco is obviously hoping to fill that gap with Mitchell Paige, signed by the team today after apparently performing well at rookie Mini Camp.
Here are some video highlights from his career at Indiana:
As you can see, Paige is an excellent punt returner. When in the offense, he’s used similarly to the guys mentioned above, thrown the ball with space in front of him and a blocker so that he can use his speed and not have to rely on his strength. At 5’7” and 180 lbs, that’s understandable.
Predictably, Paige has had to overcome a lot to make it to the NFL. Some of his journey was captured by the Big Ten Network...
Fun! Now let’s see how the kid performs in preseason.