Ever since he first entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent, Jakobi Meyers has shown that his ability to rise up to challenges might just be his best quality.
He did it as a rookie in 2019, when he joined the New England Patriots alongside first-round wide receiver N’Keal Harry. He did it as a sophomore in 2020, when he started the season as a depth option at the position before emerging as the Patriots’ No. 1 pass catcher.
He also did it in 2021. Despite the team bringing high-prized wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne as well as tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith aboard in free agency, it was Meyers who ended up as New England’s leading receiver.
The current season is shaping up to be more of the same for the 25-year-old, and the Patriots’ joint practices with the Las Vegas Raiders this week were confirmation of that. Through two days working out with the Raiders, Meyers proved himself the most reliable and productive target in quarterback Mac Jones’ arsenal.
It was therefore no surprise to hear Jones sing Meyers’ praises after Wednesday’s session.
“He’s a really smart football player,” the second-year quarterback said. “He’s been one of my close friends since I’ve gotten here, and I trust him. We see the game the same way, sometimes without even talking about it. We’re just working on growing together and kind of making our repertoire a little better, just with what he sees. How can he help me? How can I help him?
“Hopefully, we can grow together here. He’s just a tough, smart football player. I’ll take him on my team — forever, hopefully.”
Meyers and Jones already developed some good chemistry last year. Despite the two having comparatively little opportunities together during the summer — Meyers spent most of the time working with incumbent starter Cam Newton and the first-team offense — they built a formidable connection after Jones had won the starting gig.
The wideout eventually ended the year catching 88 passes for 895 yards and a touchdown from the rookie QB. Now in their second year together, the arrow is pointing up despite Meyers once again facing some serious competition in the New England wide receiver room.
The Patriots, after all, added two more intriguing targets for Jones to work with during the offseason. Not only did they acquire DeVante Parker via trade from the Miami Dolphins, they also selected Tyquan Thornton in the second round of the draft.
Additionally, the team made some tweaks to its offensive operation — tweaks that Meyers acknowledged were not easy to adapt to initially. One month later, however, he is still doing what he has been doing since arriving in New England: make plays and provide a safety blanket for his quarterback.
As far as the schematic changes are concerned, Meyers downplayed them and his role within them on Monday.
“For the most part I’m pretty much doing the same job,” he said. “I just have to go out there and do it. That’s football for you every year. It’s the same thing every year, but at the same time if you just stay the same and don’t get better at it, you probably won’t be here for long.”
Meyers has been here for long, at least relatively speaking. This, in turn, is a reflection of his ability to adapt and get better — and to grow into one of the Patriots’ most valuable players.