The New England Patriots messed up. They shouldn’t have signed wide receiver Jakobi Meyers as a rookie free agent. They should have taken him on the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Everything wound up working out for the Patriots, though. Meyers has been the Patriots’ best wide receiver throughout three weeks of training camp and two preseason games, and that was no different Saturday night when the rookie caught six passes on six targets for 82 yards with a two-point conversion.
Meyers was unmistakably better than the other wide receivers on the field Saturday night when the Patriots beat the Tennessee Titans 22-17 in preseason action. And one of the players he was competing with was Dontrelle Inman, who’s two seasons removed from an 810-yard campaign with the then-San Diego Chargers.
No other wide receiver had more than one catch and 23 yards.
And Meyers proved that he won’t be affected by Josh Gordon’s conditional reinstatement. Meyers is making the 2019 Patriots. And after a strong camp with some momentum carrying him into the season, Meyers could start the year with a big role.
Meyers’ competition for a starting slot is Gordon, who wasn’t with the team all spring and summer and won’t suit up in a game until Week 4 of the preseason when Tom Brady will be standing on the sideline, first-round pick N’Keal Harry, who’s currently out with various injuries, and Demaryius Thomas, who’s on the physically unable to perform list.
Don’t just pencil in Meyers for a spot on the 53-man roster, feel free to put him near the top of your Patriots wide receiver depth chart below Julian Edelman.
Meyers essentially served as a get out of jail free card Saturday night for quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham. If they were having trouble moving the ball or needed a third-down pickup, hit Meyers.
Meyers won’t wow anyone with his speed, but he has solid hands, and he’s savvy off the line of scrimmage, showcasing quick roadrunner feet.
So, how did Meyers go undrafted? He has good size at 6-foot-2, 203 pounds, but he’s not a monster like Harry or Gordon. He ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash, which certainly hurt him. He timed at 7.07 seconds in the 3-cone drill at the NFL Scouting Combine and improved that with a 6.87-second drill at his pro day. Nice times, but nothing remarkable. He also didn’t wow with a 37-inch vertical leap, 9-foot, 10-inch broad jump and 4.23-second short shuttle.
He had good hands and won contested catch battles, but he wasn’t exactly a standout on NC State’s team.
He caught 92 passes for 1,047 yards with four touchdowns as a junior in 2018, but Kelvin Harmon, a sixth-round pick, caught 81 passes for 1,186 yards with seven touchdowns.
It probably hurt Meyers’ chances of being drafted that he came out of school early too. Another year would have added more hype to his game.
So, Meyers probably wasn’t going to be an early-round pick (even if he looks like one this summer). Nothing about him screamed first- or second-day selection.
And late-round picks are usually made after a coach or scout has pounded the table for a player. They’re the uber-athletic types like Ken Webster, the ultra-productive types like Elandon Roberts, the trouble makers like Alfonzo Dennard, the guys who slip through the cracks because they went to small schools like Keion Crossen or battled injuries like Ja’Whaun Bentley. They’re not for steady Eddies like Jakobi Meyers.
The rest of the league’s loss is New England’s gain right now. And if Meyers succeeds, even the Patriots will have been proven wrong.