By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots may be unsettled at wide receiver, but they still have more upside at that position than a year ago. The hope is that first-round pick N'Keal Harry develops quickly and can be their No. 2 receiver or better as soon as his rookie season. But the team may have also found themselves a hidden gem in Jakobi Meyers.
Undrafted out of N.C. State, Meyers has rapidly built a better case than any other rookie free agent to make the Patriots' 53-man roster. Since the start of training camp, Meyers has embodied the team's axiom of getting better every day. Tom Brady looked in his direction more than any other receiver through the first two weeks of training camp (a team-high seven catches from No. 12, per Jeff Howe). Reports from Monday's joint practice with the Lions indicated that Meyers continued to make standout plays in competitive drills, this time against cornerbacks from another team.
Meyers is proving that his size and hands were draft-able traits. He's shown an impressive ability to get open in drills despite concerns about his lack of speed. Most important is that he's getting all these reps and targets in the first place, a sure sign that Brady likes what he's seeing.
At this point, it's irrelevant to Brady that Harry was drafted 32nd overall and Meyers wasn't drafted at all. You get open, you get the ball.
"He's done a great job and he's taken advantage of his opportunities," said Brady of Meyers. "I think that's really what we try to stress to anybody. It really doesn't matter – the football doesn't care how old you are, whether you were drafted or not. The football doesn't care how much experience you have. It just knows that when I let that ball go, it's got to be in the hands of the guy who it's intended for. If that happens to be him, it's him. If it's Julian, it's Julian. Whoever it is, it doesn't matter in football."
To be certain, the Patriots still want Harry to get to Meyers' level of trust and production sooner rather than later. It hasn't been all bad for Harry. The first-round pick out of Arizona State has flashed his eye-popping ability to reel in the ball from a variety of angles. When he's had issues they've been mental, like when he lined up wrong on consecutive plays during the second practice of training camp. His drops are concentration-based; his hands are not the problem.
Harry has picked up his game in recent practices, while Meyers has continued to stand out. The difference is that Harry's roster spot is secure, while Meyers' is not. Things could change quickly; Maurice Harris looked like the best new receiver as soon as a week ago. But recently, Meyers has played like a man who knows he needs to earn everything he gets.
It's a positive sign for a retooling Patriots offense that they have a new, unheralded player making the most of his opportunities.
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].