By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots will almost certainly carry an undrafted free agent on the 53-man roster when the 2019 season kicks off. The question, really, is who's the guy?
Jakobi Meyers from N.C. State might be the leader in the clubhouse. Meyers' reps at YM APAA Sports announced via Twitter on Saturday that he signed with the Patriots shortly after the conclusion of the 2019 NFL Draft. And, if only because he plays a position filled with uncertainty after Julian Edelman, Meyers gets a leg up on other UDFAs to make the team out of training camp.
Meyers is fairly similar to the Patriots' first-round pick, wide receiver N'Keal Harry out of Arizona State. His size, hands, and toughness make him a threat to win contested catches, even when he's covered. But Meyers lacks Harry's raw athleticism and after-the-catch ability, which made him a borderline draft selection last weekend.
Still, Meyers worked the middle of the field as Ryan Finley's safety valve with the Wolfpack. He's a big target at 6-foot-2, continuing an unusual theme of the Patriots' approach to the wide receiver position this offseason. The concern with him is whether he will be able to overcome his lack of speed and explosiveness to separate from NFL defenders. He may not be able to get open early enough in his routes to earn Tom Brady's trust.
His highlights from N.C. State, however, reveal a Patriots-like target when he's at his best.
But Meyers nonetheless sounds like a good fit for Brady and the kind of player that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels could maximize. As a big slot, he appears likely to compete with Maurice Harris and Bruce Ellington for a roster spot. Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, and Harry are the only virtual locks at this point.
The Patriots have set a good example for everyone in camp with the promotion of at least one UDFA every season. J.C. Jackson made the team in 2018 and made a legitimate impact as an outside cornerback. With the Patriots in need of productive receivers, Meyers has a good chance to make his presence felt by the fall.
It wouldn't be the first time that an undrafted receiver contributed as a rookie. In a trying 2013 season for the offense, undrafted wideout Kenbrell Thompkins was a bright spot, catching 32 passes for 466 yards and 4 touchdowns in 12 games. He most famously caught the game-winning touchdown in the closing seconds against the Saints, which prompted Scott Zolak's famous "Unicorns! Show ponies! Where's the beef!?" call.
Will Meyers be that guy in 2019? It's just a question at this point. But he has perhaps the best chance to be the answer.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].