I don't want to get ahead of myself here just because Jakobi Meyers had one of the best games for a pass catcher in recent Patriots history. Or to put it differently, I do want to get ahead of myself here. Everyone always cautions you not to get too far out over your skis, but while sometimes being out over your skis will cause wipe outs, it'll also win you medals in skiing things. And even if you do wipe out, you can get a cast and sit in the lodge getting drunk and have a huge advantage with the snow bunnies.
What prompts me to even ask what exactly we have here in this undrafted second year player out of NC State after only 21 career games is not just the fact Pats fans need something to feel good about. Though there is that. It's the way the analytics guys are grading him. At least compared to his peers.
By no means am I suggesting I wouldn't trade the Patriots three best players for a wideout with the production of Brown, Fulgham, McLaurin or even 75% of Metcalf. And say what you will about Pro Football Focus' methods, but there's an argument to be made that Meyers - in an admittedly small sample size - belongs in their mighty company.
Consider this PFF ranking of the WR Class of 2019, sorted by their Receiving grade:
He also ranks:
- 4th in overall offense, behind only Brown, Fulgham and Metcalf
- 1st in receiving %
- 8th in 1st down.
These are remarkable given how much the Patriots passing game has struggled. And that last one is especially impressive given that he barely saw the field until three weeks ago. After never seeing more than 11% of his teams' offensive snaps early in the season, his playing time has gone to 79%, 98% and then 99% against the Jets. Plus it's not exactly like when he lines up in a 3-man bunch formation he's got All Pros on either side of him drawing all the attention and getting him open. He's one of a group of UDFAs and still maximizing the opportunities he's being given.
Thought it's likely he's going to be drawing all the coverage after making his appearance into NFL society at his Debutante's Ball Sunday Night. John Harbaugh was asked about Meyers yesterday and suggested exactly that. “He’s obviously become a target,” Harbaugh said. "You start with that. Then you see how and why, and I think he’s done a great job of just playing the position. He’s got talent, he’s rangy, he’s got good hands, he’s got catch radius, he can get open. He seems to understand coverages and leverages pretty well, and he seems to be tuned in to the offense and to Cam.''
Which is a good point. Cam Newton ran a football camp in North Carolina that Meyers attended. And to hear Meyers talk about Newton yesterday, it sounds like they developed that Tripper/Rudy the Rabbit chemistry that can only exist between a camper and a wise, experienced counselor:
"I just remember him pretty much telling me that I was selling myself short. That I have potential, all I have to do is just live up to it and go out there and show coaches what I can do,'' he said in his conference call. "It was crazy because right after that, I got my opportunity, I actually played a couple plays and made a couple plays here in the San Fran game, a couple plays here in the Bills game, and then I got the opportunity to play a major role in the last game. Like he was saying, just stop selling myself short. I could be beneficial to the team if I just go out there and put my best effort every day, show coaches that they can trust me to play and I’m reliable. And it ended up leading to good things.''
So there's a long way to go, I admit that. The Jets aren't exactly the Legion of Boom. Or the legion of anything else, really. But it's not an accident that this guy made the roster last year, stuck around this year, and is producing now that he's getting his shot and earning more playing time as he does. Nor would it be out of the realm that he become a solid receiver when you look at the history of undrafted wideouts, from Rod Smith to Wes Welker to Victor Cruz to Danny Amendola. It's a tough position to scout, and personnel departments have spent millions drafting the wrong guys and overlooking the right ones.
I hope I'm right when I say Jakobi Meyers will be one of the right ones for a long time to come. It would help make up for a ton of wrong ones.