Ever heard of Richard Sligh or Jack Emanuel “Soapy” Shapiro? Sligh would be listed as the tallest man to ever play in the NFL while Shapiro was the shortest. At seven feet, Sligh was selected by the Oakland Raiders in 1967. He would play only one year and was a reserve player in Super Bowl II. Shapiro’s career dates back even further. At five feet, Shapiro played professional football in 1929. Although the NFL wasn’t technically alive yet, the Guinness Book of Records listed him as the shortest man on record in NFL history in 1999. Although both these players didn’t have a huge impact on the game, their names will live on as long as football is around. The NFL is extremely meticulous about a person’s body. They painstakingly comb throw every inch and detail of a potential player body. It’s one of the main reason why there's an NFL combine. If you’re too tall or short, then making it in the NFL decreases dramatically. However, there are the exceptions and you’re about to read them.
Many of these players might be cut by the time you read this. They could also blow up and be a fantastic contributor to their respective team. This is why the NFL has a preseason, to weed out those who can’t make the cut. Enjoy.
15 Tallest: Dennis Kelly - 6'8"
The Illinois native stands at 6 feet 8 inches tall. He would attend Purdue and be selected in the fifth-round in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. The towering offensive tackle would stay with the team for three seasons before moving onto the Tennessee Titans. He would sign a $3.05 million extension with the team in the offseason after appearing in all 16 games.
14 Shortest: C.J. Anderson - 5'8"
At 5 feet 8 inches, C.J. Anderson could have a break out year this season. He would be signed as an undrafted free agent by the Denver Broncos in 2013. Anderson has worked his tail off to become the number one running back on the team. Last season was a disappointment for him because he would only play in seven games due to a torn meniscus.
13 Tallest: Margus Hunt - 6'8"
Known as "The Estonian Giant", Margus Hunt is 6 feet 8 inches tall. Born in Karksi-Buia, Estonia, Hunt was inspired to be an Olympian in the throwing events such as the discus and the shot and hammer throw. He would leave his country to train at Southern Methodist University in 2007. The track and field coach of the school, Dave Wollman, thought he could earn a scholarship due to his size and strength, and the next thing you know, he was playing defense for the football team.
12 Shortest: Terron Ward - 5'7"
The California native is only 5 feet 7 inches tall, however, that hasn’t stopped him from making it in the NFL. As the brother of fantastic Denver Broncos’ safety, T.J. Ward, he knows what it takes to be successful in the league. After attending Oregon State, Ward would go undrafted in 2015. The Atlanta Falcons would offer him a contract and he's been on the team ever since.
11 Tallest: Calais Campbell - 6'8"
Calais Campbell is a defensive tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars but played most of his career with the Arizona Cardinals. At 6 feet 8 inches, Calais would be selected by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. As a multi-sport athlete for Miami University, Campbell was considered a great prospect for the league.
10 Shortest: Tommylee Lewis - 5'7"
The Florida native would attend Northern Illinois and go undrafted in 2016. At 5 feet 7 inches, Lewis has to rely on his speed to make it as a wide receiver in the league. He would get a huge referral from legendary coach, Bill Parcells, and would be signed by the New Orleans Saints. Apparently, Lewis’ high school coach is really good friends with Parcells.
9 Tallest: Alejandro Villanueva - 6'8"
Villanueva is a feel good story for the NFL. At 6 feet 8 inches tall, Villanueva would graduate from the United States Military Academy. This tough S.O.B. would serve multiple tours in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He would be awarded a Bronze Star Medal with “V” device for saving wounded soldiers.
8 Shortest: Jakeem Grant - 5'7"
At 5 feet 7 inches, Grant would attend Texas Tech as a wide receiver. After a huge senior season, 1,268 yards and ten touchdowns, he would be selected by the Miami Dolphins in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. With the speed to run a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash, Grant would be a corner piece for the team’s special teams unit.
7 Tallest: Trent Brown - 6'9"
At 6 feet 9 inches tall, Brown was selected in the seventh round by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2014 draft. He would only play in six games in 2015 but would appear in all 16 games last season. Although he isn’t listed as the best tackle in the game, he got a huge rub from Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. “I feel like Trent Brown has a very bright future in the National Football League,” said Miller.
6 Shortest: Jacquizz Rodgers - 5'6"
At 5 feet 6 inches, he blew out the competition at Oregon State. He would be selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Rodgers would become a consistent half back for the team, missing just one game in four years. In 2015, he would sign a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears.
5 Tallest: Cornelius Lucas - 6'9"
Coming out of Kansas State, Lucas would go undrafted in 2014 but would be signed by the Detroit Lions that year. It was a great signing for the team because Lucas is still on the team three years later. At 6 feet 9 inches, Lucas has no problem towering over others. His first two years with the team he would play in 30 games but last season he would become injured and only played in five games.
4 Shortest: Shane Wynn - 5'6"
Standing at 5 feet and 6 inches, Shane Wynn would play four years for the University of Indiana. The Hoosier would play wide receiver and would become an impact player right away. He doesn’t have the size but he has the speed to make himself a deadly weapon on the field. After a solid collegiate career, Wynn would end up undrafted in 2015.
3 Tallest: Demar Dotson - 6'9"
The Louisiana native would attend Southern Mississippi before going undrafted in 2009. At 6 feet 9 inches, the Tampa Buccaneers would sign him and he’s been with the team ever since. That speaks volumes for Dotson, who went undrafted in 2009 and is still in the league in 2017. He would work hard and improve his skills at right tackle over the years. He would become a swing tackle and play both left and right for the team.
2 Shortest: Darren Sproles - 5'6"
If you know about fantasy football and the PPR system, then you would know the 5 foot 6 inches Darren Sproles was that sneaky pick that kept your season alive. Sproles would be drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He would spend time with New Orleans Saints before becoming a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
1 Tallest: Dan Skipper - 6'10"
You ever heard the saying "things are bigger in Texas?" At 6 feet 10 inches, Dan Skipper became the tallest player in the NFL when the Dallas Cowboys signed him as an undrafted free agent this year. Skipper would attend the University of Arkansas and played tackle and special teams for the team. He would break the record for most blocked field goal attempts in a season with three.
His hard work would earn him a spot on the All-SEC team of ESPN, Sporting News, and the Coaches Poll. His towering height might not transfer over to the big leagues but it’s going to be interesting how his career plays out. A spot on the practice squad seems more likely for Skipper but stranger things have happened in the NFL.
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