15 Shortest NFL Players in History

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NFL is a sport that is heavily dominated by tall, bulky, and sturdy players. However, players of shorter stature now and then establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with. This listicle will look into the 15 Shortest NFL Players in History.

Shorter players do not have the reach that the taller players inherently enjoy. However, they are fast, agile, and quick off the blocks. 

Steve Smith, one of the shortest NFL Players (Source: Wikipedia )

So, without delay, let’s look at the 15 Shortest NFL Players in History. Don’t forget to comment below with your thoughts on them.

15 Shortest NFL Players in History

The following list is compiled from one of the most trusted sources, NFL.com.

Before we dive into the brief player profiles, let’s have an overview of the 15 Shortest NFL Players in History.

 Name Height (in feet and inches)
15. Elvis Dumervil 5’11”
14. Kyler Murray 5’10”
13. Antoine Winfield  5’9″
12. Bob Sanders 5’8″
11. Jim Leonhard 5’8″
10. Mark McMillian 5’7″
9. Wes Welker 5’9″
8. Steve Smith 5’9″
7. Barry Sanders 5’8″
6. Maurice Jones-Drew 5’7″
5. Jacquizz Rodgers 5’6″
4. Tarik Cohen 5’6″
3. Darren Sproles 5’6″
2. Trindon Holliday 5’5”
1. Jack Shapiro 5’1”

15. Elvis Dumervil

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Position: Defensive End

Starting off our list, Elvis Kool Dumervil is an American former defensive end who played for 12 seasons in the NFL.

While Dumervil stands taller than the average short player on the list, his playstyle was cohesive to his stature.

Elvis Dumervil. (Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

In addition, Dumervil had a low center of gravity which reverberated throughout his playing career.

He leveraged his shorter build against tall oppositions by bending the edge and tucking in even lower on the ground. 

14. Kyler Murray

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Position: Quarterback

An American quarterback Kyler Cole Murray currently represents the Arizona Cardinals.

Kyler Murray, the NFL Quarterback (Source: Wikipedia)

Quarterbacks are often the talk of the town in any team, even more so when the quarterback’s height measurement reads 5 feet 10 inches.

While being tall is an advantage for the quarterback position, Murray did not let his height deter him from putting up incredible performances right from the off.

In addition, during his collegiate career, Murray was awarded the Heisman Trophy, an award given to the best player in college football.

13. Antoine Winfield 

  • Height: 5’9
  • Position: Cornerback

A former American football pro-Antoine Duane Winfield Sr., played for 14 seasons in the NFL.

Cornerback Antoine Winfield (Source: Pinterest)

Winfield wasn’t just famous for going toe-to-toe with the wide receivers – he dominated them.

During his 15 seasons in the NFL, Winfield consistently outdid his opponents, who usually had at least 3 inches and 20 pounds over him.

A relentless tackler, Antoine had a habit of forcing fumbles. Furthermore, to add to his illustrious career, Winfield earned himself 3 Pro Bowl bids.

12. Bob Sanders

  • Height: 5’8”
  • Position: Safety

Demond Sanders, or Bob Sanders, is a former professional footballing athlete who played for eight seasons in the NFL.

Bob Sanders (Source: Twitter)

They say that your output depends on the attitude that you carry along with you. There is no better testament to this statement than Bob Sanders.

Widely known as an aggressive ball-hawk, Sanders took on bigger receivers and knocked them off their cleats.

Likewise, his playstyle featured throwing his body around and, more often than not, recklessly abandoning his safety position.

Despite facing injuries throughout his career, The Sandman won the coveted Defensive Player of the Year award in 2007.

Likewise, Sanders also has a Super Bowl ring to his name, winning it in 2006.

Also Read about: 12 Highest Paid NFL Player’s Net Worth

11. Jim Leonhard

  • Height: 5’8″
  • Position: Safety

Moving up the list, James Andrew Leonhard is a former American safety who played for ten seasons in the NFL.

Jim Leonhard (Source: Twitter)

The former NFL pro serves as a defensive coordinator for the Wisconsin Badgers Football Team.

Like the last four letters in his name, Leonhard was famous for his ‘H A R D‘ hitting and lightning-quick closing speeds.

Again, he enjoyed a productive career at safety which would otherwise suit much bigger athletes.

10. Mark McMillian

  • Height: 5’7”
  • Position: Cornerback

Mark D. McMillian, also nicknamed Mighty Mouse, is a former American cornerback who played for eight seasons in the NFL.

With the cornerback position stationed to cover the wide receivers, having a more extensive build is almost a prerequisite in the modern era. 

Mark McMillian (Source: Pinterest)

However, despite his shorter build, McMillian consistently performed at the highest level during the mid-90s.

Similarly, he came close to leading the league in interceptions one year, recording an impressive eight interceptions during the same period.

9. Wes Welker

  • Height: 5’9″
  • Position: Wide Receiver

Coming in at number 9, Wesley Carter Welker is a former American football pro who played for 11 seasons in the NFL.

The former wide receiver currently serves as a wide receiver coach for the San Francisco 49ers.

While Welker did not have his hands on the elusive Super Bowl ring, he undoubtedly goes down as one of the best players in the league.

shortest nfl player
Wes Walker (Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

Welker was a talented but severely underused player for the first few seasons of his career. However, his fortune changed when he met Tom Brady.

Wes played most of his career with Tom Brady, from which he benefitted greatly. Again, a highly reliable player, Welker went to 5 Pro Bowls and led the league in receiving multiple times during his career.

8. Steve Smith

  • Height: 5’9”
  • Position: Wide Receiver

Stevonne Latrall Smith Sr., or Steve Smith, is a former American footballing athlete who played for 16 seasons in the NFL.

Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

With Smith being the only wide receiver inductee in this list, his accomplishments as a player stand out even more.

Moreover, Smith had made it his reflexive habit of winning contested catches, breaking tackles, and outwitting defenders.

His illustrious career consists of 5 Pro Bowls nods and two first-team All-Pro bids. He also led the league in receiving in 2005.

7. Barry Sanders

  • Height: 5’8”
  • Position: Running Back

Barry Sanders is a former American running back who played for ten seasons in the NFL.

Former running back Barry Sanders (Source: Getty Images)

Sanders dazzled the NFL stage with lightning-quick movements and memorable plays throughout his career.

Widely known for his “you blink, you miss” moves, Sanders’s glorious career is filled with accolades and deserved recognition.

Despite all the naysayers doubting him because of his height, he made a career in the NFL.

Sanders is a permanent inductee into the NFL Hall of Fame. Similarly, he holds the 4th most rushing yards of all time. Likewise, Sanders featured in 10 Pro Bowls as well.

You might also be interested in: Ranking the 15 Best NFL Defensive Ends

6. Maurice Jones-Drew

  • Height: 5’7″
  • Position: Running Back

More commonly referred to as MJD, Maurice Christopher Jones-Drew is a former American football professional who played for eight years in the NFL.

Introduced to the NFL in 2006, MJD made his mark as a true powerhouse of the game.

On top of that, standing sturdy at 210 pounds, Maurice tore the opposition apart with his insane speed.

Maurice Jones-Drew (Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

During his eight seasons in the NFL, MJD became the workhorse runner in the league. MJD had 3 Pro Bowl bids to his name to shed light on his illustrious career.

Furthermore, he rubberstamped his credentials in the NFL with two first-team All-Pro selections.

5. Jacquizz Rodgers

Coming in at number five, Jacquizz “Quiz” Rodgers is a former American running back who played for eight years in the NFL.

Jacquizz Rodgers (Source: Getty Images)

The 5 ft. 6 inches athlete was a productive and quick runner in the NFL, carrying a prolific resume under his collegiate career.

Moreover, with an ideal mix of speed, power, and acceleration, Rodgers made a name for himself in the league.

While he never had the elusive Super Bowl ring to his name, he managed to rush over 2,000 yards in his NFL career.

4. Tarik Cohen

  • Height: 5’6”
  • Position: Running Back

Born on July 26, 1995, Tarik Cohen is an American running back representing the Chicago Bears.

Running Back Tarik Cohen (Source: Windy City Gridiron )

Tarik has managed to light up the NFL stage despite his 5 ft 6 inches in his relatively young career in the NFL.

He became the shortest NFL player to throw a touchdown pass in nearly a century.

3. Darren Sproles

  • Height: 5’6”
  • Position: Running back

Coming in at number 3, Darren Lee Sproles is a former American running back and returns specialist who played in the NFL for 14 seasons.

Sproles currently serves as an Executive and a personnel consultant for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sproles had an incredible 14 seasons in the NFL. Furthermore, loved by all, Sproles became the go-to short guy in the league.

Running Back Darren Sproles (Source: Commons.wikimedia.org)

While he may have been short in size, his toughness and concrete competitiveness made him a fierce competitor.

To illustrate just how good he was, he tore defenses apart to the point where he earned himself three Pro Bowl selections and the coveted Super Bowl Ring.

2. Trindon Holliday

  • Height: 5’5”
  • Position: Return Specialist

Moving into the top 2, Trindon Jerard Holliday is a former American wide receiver and return specialist who played for five years in the NFL.

Return Specialist Trindon Holliday (Source: Wikipedia)

One of the very few players to measure under 5 ft 6 inches, Holliday is primarily reminisced because of his fierce speed and for being outrageously quick.

Furthermore, he set the record for the longest punt return touchdown in a playoff game.

And if that wasn’t enough, he outdid himself in the fourth quarter with another long kickoff return score.

1. Jack Shapiro

  • Height: 5’1”
  • Position: Fullback

Topping our list, Jack Emanuel “Soupy” Shapiro was a former American football player who played just one game in the NFL for the Staten Island Stapletons.

Jack Shapiro, the shortest NFL player in History (Source: Wikimedia)

Shapiro is officially recognized as the shortest player to play in the NFL. Moreover, Soupy lined up for the Stapletons in 1929 and played for just one match for them.

However, he stuck around with the Stapletons roster for five matches in total. While he never reached the magnanimous superstar level, he became an inspiration to many.

Undoubtedly, he is the pioneer in breaking the barrier that stood tall against players of shorter build. Jack “Soupy” Shapiro passed away on February 5, 2001.


NFL has and will likely always remain a sport where the tall, sturdy and relentless players dominate.

However, we can never discount the speed, power, and acceleration that the players of the shorter build bring to the game.

The abovementioned players round out our coverage of the 15 Shortest NFL Players in History.

You might also enjoy reading about the 10 Strongest NFL Players in the World.

Aaditya Bhatta
Aaditya Bhatta

Aaditya Bhatta

Aaditya Bhatta is a dynamic writer and sports enthusiast, whose passion for both realms is reflected in his work. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for storytelling, Aaditya brings a unique perspective to his writing, captivating readers with his engaging content.


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Aaditya's journey as a writer and sports aficionado began at a young age when he discovered his passion for both pursuits. Throughout his academic and professional endeavors, Aaditya has honed his skills in content creation and sports analysis, immersing himself in the intricacies of the games he loves.

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