Last season, wide receiver Jakobi Meyers was one of the very few standout players for the New England Patriots. The North Carolina State product showed he can step up when injuries arise, and that he could be a reliable weapon.
As things stand, the Patriots are in a transition period, in part from the departure of quarterback Tom Brady. On top of that, now the team must recover from the departure of one of the franchise’s greatest receivers.
After battling injuries in recent years, Julian Edelman decided to finish his career as a Patriot and move on to the next chapter. The news means New England is now without a number one receiver – a role Edelman has filled for much of his career.
Nevertheless, remember that Edelman was supposed to be “the guy”. A seventh-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Kent State graduate had to earn his spot on the roster – something that the 24-year-old Meyers will need to do as he enters his third season.
In 2020, no receiver on the roster had more receptions and yards than Meyers. While he did not haul in a touchdown, he did throw for two. Sound familiar?
So, with Edelman hanging up his cleats, could Meyers continue his upward trend to fill the hole left at Gillette Stadium?
Can Jakobi Meyers be the New England Patriots Next Julian Edelman?
When needed, Jakobi Meyers stepped up
Yes, Jakobi Meyers’ sophomore season started off slow, with only 22 offensive snaps from week one to three. Moreover, he did not even see the field in weeks four and five.
Yet, when receiver N’Keal Harry got hurt in week six, Meyers seized the opportunity and worked his way into being one of Cam Newton‘s top targets. Especially considering that Edelman was on injured reserve, Meyers was utilized both on the outside and in this lot. He proved he could adjust to being moved around so often, and did so consistently.
When Cam Newton and Jakobi Meyers embarrassed the Jets last year >
— TRENT BROWN #1 FAN (@BradyyNFL) May 29, 2021
Over 14 games, Meyers caught 59 passes on 78 catchable targets for 729 yards. He led the Patriots in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. Not to mention, Meyers had a career performance on Monday Night Football against the division rival New York Jets. On top of catching 12 passes for 169 yards, he had a clutch 20-yard catch to set up the game-winning field goal.
After going undrafted, Meyers is relying on his hard work and production to establish himself as a valuable asset to his team. This work ethic is similar to that of Edelman, who had to work his way up the roster after being picked late in the 2009 draft.
Edelman joined a team with Wes Welker and Deion Branch on the roster and, like Meyers, capitalized when teammates were injured. He showed flashes of his speed and grit as one of the best punt returners in the team’s history. Then, he broke out as a top receiver in his fifth year.
Julian Edelman has backed Jakobi Meyers
When Edelman went out with a knee injury last season, he was very vocal about backing Meyers to pick up the slack. Edelman told reporters that Jakobi Meyers “worked his tail off”‘ and that “he was taking advantage of the opportunities he was given”.
Speaking in a promotional call for the marketing company, Superdigital, Edelman added: “It’s crazy to see a lot of these guys that come into the locker room these days with a sense of entitlement, a sense of, “I was a big-school guy, I was a big-name guy”. This and that. Jakobi wasn’t.
“I think that has a lot to do with him doing as well as he is, because if he falls, he hits rocks. He doesn’t hit pillows like someone who was drafted in a higher class. He’s not given as many opportunities and he takes advantage of every opportunity.”
‘That’s why I’m pulling for him. That’s why I give him so much information. I’m closer to the end than I am to the beginning, and for me to live on through the game, it’s the knowledge you pass that you’ve learned.”
It goes without saying that Edelman sees himself in Meyers, and has passed his wisdom onto the younger weapon. Both came from underrated backgrounds, with outstanding work ethic driving them to prove themselves. If anything, Edelman’s lessons should help Meyers follow in his footsteps.
Meyers played quarterback in college like Edelman
Looking back, some of Edelman’s most memorable moments came in the form of trick plays that called him to play quarterback – which he did in college.
This included a beautiful touchdown pass to Danny Amendola in the 2014 Divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens. The pass was the longest touchdown pass thrown by a non-quarterback player in NFL playoff history.
The pass makes Edelman one of six NFL players with a perfect postseason passer rating of 158.3. He had five other pass attempts all of which he completed for a total of 128 passing yards.
Jakobi Meyers last season
– 59 catches for 729 yards
– 2/2 passing for 43 yards and 2 touchdowns
Can’t wait to see what he can do next season 🔥🔥pic.twitter.com/mE9sMGgHm2
— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) May 6, 2021
Like Edelman, Meyers played quarterback in college. Although he moved to wideout his sophomore years, Meyers has already doubled Edelman’s passing touchdown total.
In week 10 against the Baltimore Ravens, Meyers completed a 24-yard passing touchdown to running back Rex Burkhead during the 23–17 win.
In Week 17 against the Jets, Meyers recorded a 19-yard passing touchdown on a trick play to Cam Newton. The Patriots won the game 28–14, with Meyers also hauling in five passes for 57 yards. .
Meyers ranks as a top 25 receiver by Pro Football Focus
It was not only Edelman or Patriots fans that Meyers impressed in 2020. His standout performance in an otherwise stagnant offense earned Meyers a spot on PFF‘s list of top receivers for the season.
PFF noted: “Meyers was sneakily one of the most productive wide receivers in the league despite putting up a goose egg in the touchdowns column due to Josh McDaniels pounding the rock in the red zone.”
‘The former UDFA generated 2.24 yards per route run, 10th at the position, and second among second-year wide receivers behind only A.J. Brown.
No, this does not automatically mean Meyers will replace Edelman. Rather, his reliable play has him on the right track to do so.
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Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images