New England Patriots

Aug 29, 2019; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers celebrate after scoring a touchdown against the New York Giants during the first half at Gillette Stadium. (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Jakobi Meyers may be far from a starting role, but the undrafted rookie wide receiver certainly showed enough this summer to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster.

Meyers is on the team to start the 2019 season, which extends the team’s incredible streak of naming at least on undrafted free agent to the 53-man roster to a 17th straight year. The Patriots have kept at least one player from their UDFA class every season since cornerback Randall Gay made the team in 2004. They also named Gunner Olszewski to the roster hours after initially telling him he was released, culminating one of the team’s best preseason stories in recent memory.

Signed out of N.C. State after the 2019 draft, Meyers got off to a hot start with the Patriots. He quickly elevated himself to starter reps with Tom Brady in practice as other receivers either got injured or fell behind.

However, Meyers faltered in his preseason dress rehearsal when playing with Brady, catching none of his three targets. Additionally, the Patriots got back veteran receivers Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Demaryius Thomas from the NFI/PUP lists.

Based on the preseason finale against the Giants, the Patriots may plan to slide Gordon right in as a starter at receiver. Phillip Dorsett showed a strong connection with Brady in the dress rehearsal and looks like a safe bet to start Week 1, while rookie first-round pick N’Keal Harry appears to be a little behind as he works his way back from hamstring and ankle injuries. Despite all this, Meyers performed well enough to stick at the back end of the depth chart.

Olszewski, meanwhile, quickly became a fan favorite by playing his ass off in the final two preseason games. He looks like a legitimate threat as a punt returner, and while he has a long way to go as a receiver, he can also play defensive back in a pinch as a former cornerback at Bemidji State. It’s not too surprising that Bill Belichick fell in love with Olszewski’s competitive fire and versatility, but he should provide immediate value as a returner.

FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 29: Gunner Olszewski of the New England Patriots runs with the ball during a preseason game against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MA – AUGUST 29: Gunner Olszewski of the New England Patriots runs with the ball during a preseason game against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

The Pats have four other former undrafted free agents besides Meyers who have remained on the team: center David Andrews (2015), cornerback Jonathan Jones (2016), defensive tackle Adam Butler (2017), and cornerback J.C. Jackson (2018). Running back Brandon Bolden, who signed as an undrafted rookie in 2012, is in his second stint with the team.

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 matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.