The New England Patriots dropped their second straight game on Sunday, falling 22-12 to the Miami Dolphins. With New England officially eliminated from playoff contention, it’s time to have eyes towards next season as the Patriots play their final two games.
One bright spot during the Dolphins game was the play of second-year wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who has been the Patriots leading receiver this season. Meyers posted 111 yards on 7 receptions against the talented Dolphins secondary, the only Patriots wide receiver to register more than 25 yards.
While Meyers played sparingly early in the season and then logged a few healthy scratches, he’s become Cam Newton’s go-to target since returning to the field against the San Francisco 49ers. Over the past 9 games, Meyers has produced 48 receptions for 609 yards on 67 targets. That pro-rates to a full season of 85 receptions and 1,082 receiving yards. (Interestingly enough Meyers has yet to record a receiving touchdown, but has been open in the endzone and has thrown one of his own).
Meyers has been the only Patriots wide receiver to sustain a certain level of play this season, after a promising rookie year despite being an undrafted free agent. Looking ahead, he’s the only receiver on the roster who has locked up their position on the depth chart for next year based on their 2020 performance.
Meyers has taken over the Julian Edelman role in the Patriots offense, being positioned in the slot in 3 wide receiver personnel groups or on the boundary during 2 wide receiver formations. Meyers is an efficient route runner who does most of his damage over the middle of the field. The former college quarterback has a feel for coverage on in-breaking routes, able to find windows and throwing lanes regardless of the defensive structure.
Meyers’ speed in and out of those horizontal breaks translates to separation on out-breaking routes, as he’s able to drop his hips and burst on a 90 degree angle. Meyers is elusive, slippery when he’s in space, making it difficult for defensive backs to get a read on where he is about to break. You’ll see on these reps that he first stems inside, giving him more ground to the sideline while setting up the defensive backs.
Meyers has shown the ability to carry the load of a passing offense, logging 12 receptions for 169 yards against the New York Jets. His constant separation in the intermediate portion of the field was a weapon, as well as his soft hands to finish plays. That translates perfectly into the Patriots Erhardt-Perkins offensive system, as Meyers’ has the skill-set to be next in line for the Troy Brown, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman role.
Meyers has gotten loose a few times vertically, but generally doesn’t have the speed to be a consistent deep ball threat. Additionally, his lack of long speed limits his yards after catch potential (3.6 yards after catch per reception this season).
Those missing aspects of Meyers’ game takes away from his overall upside, but speaks to his elite level of play in the intermediate to produce the numbers he has. His skill-set is the perfect complimentary fit, being a chain moving presence who will keep the Patriots offense on schedule.
Jakobi Meyers doesn’t quite have the ability of a true, alpha WR1 in the NFL, but he could be a high caliber second option with the right piece beside him. New England would be wise to acquire a true boundary wide receiver who can help stretch the field, not unlike they’ve previously had with Brandon Lafell or Brandin Cooks. Adding a player with that skill-set would be a perfect match with Meyers operating predominantly in the slot, expanding the intermediate and drawing coverage to the outside.