For all the issues they have had when it comes to selecting wide receivers early in the draft, the New England Patriots enjoyed plenty of success through the years grooming under-the-radar players at the position. Former late-round picks Troy Brown and Julian Edelman are prominent examples, as are free agent pickups such as Wes Welker or Danny Amendola.
Jakobi Meyers is trying to follow their footsteps, and he appears to be on a good way entering the third season of his career. A former rookie free agent, who arrived in New England in 2019, Meyers was the team’s leading wide receiver a year ago.
But while he registered 59 catches for 729 yards — all while also throwing a pair of touchdowns — he still thinks he has plenty left to prove coming off a productive season.
“I feel like I showed enough to keep me around for a third year, but I don’t feel like I proved anything yet,” Meyers said during a press conference following Tuesday’s training camp practice.
“I feel like I still have a long way to go. That was more just like a taste, an appetizer. I didn’t really do enough to say, ‘Yeah, I’m solidified. I don’t need to play in the preseason’ or ‘I’m solidified. I don’t need to be going as hard as the other guys are going.’ I’m still trying to show everybody how hard I work and how good I can be. Hopefully, I still have a lot of room to grow.”
The Patriots invested considerable resources in their wide receiver group this offseason, bringing in the likes of Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. Those two are obviously locks to make the 53-man roster, and Meyers is right there beside them.
Entering 2021 as a starting-caliber wide receiver would be the next chapter in Meyers’ impressive football journey.
Entering N.C. State as a quarterback, he transitioned to wide receiver a week before the start of his redshirt freshman campaign. His initial impact on the offense was limited, but he developed into a reliable receiving option for the team and finished his college career with 31 in-game appearances as well as 168 catches for 1,932 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Despite his productive, Meyers did not hear his name called during the NFL’s 2019 draft. Instead, he had to go through the free agency process before eventually landing in New England.
Playing in an offense led by legendary quarterback Tom Brady, Meyers knew he had no time to lose.
“I had to learn fast. I didn’t have any excuse because that was a guy that had been playing for two decades,” he said on Tuesday. “I didn’t get the liberty of just coming in and, ‘Oh, he’ll catch on one day.’ I came in with a first-round receiver in N’Keal [Harry]. Tom Brady, future Hall of Famer. I had to pick it up really fast or I wouldn’t be here long. It definitely pushed the tempo. I’m happy the way it worked out the way it did.”
Now heading into his third season in the system — albeit with either Cam Newton or rookie Mac Jones throwing him the football — Meyers is well established as a member of the Patriots’ receiving group. As such, he will get another shot at following the footsteps of the Troy Browns and Julian Edelmans.
“It’s been a long line of slot guys,” the 24-year-old said. “Honestly, if you want the answers all you have to do is look before you. It’s Hall of Famers before me. Just pay attention to those guys and they’ll give me everything I need.”