New England Patriots: Jakobi Meyers may still be the top pass catcher

Jakobi Meyers #16 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)
Jakobi Meyers #16 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots vastly improved on the offensive side of the ball during the offseason, and through two preseason games the results have provided a sense of hope that the additions on paper will translate when the games begin to matter.

Obviously it’s too early to tell just how things will shake out in a vacuum, especially since the starting offense hasn’t all been on the field at the same time yet due to injuries.

Preseason offers just a slight glimpse of what to expect, and so far there has been one thing made clear: Jakobi Meyers is still going to have a big role on this team.

Meyers was the top receiver on the offense in 2020 by default, and he performed fairly well under the circumstances. He finished with 59 receptions for 729 yards in 14 games.

One may not think that Meyers will be improving on those numbers with the influx of talent added to the receiving corps, but so far it seems like presumptive starting quarterback Cam Newton still relies on Meyers a lot.

It didn’t show that much against Washington, where Meyers only hauled in one pass on three targets for 11 yards, but it’s worth noting that there should have been two receptions in that game for Meyers. One of those targets would have been ruled a catch had Bill Belichick decided to challenge the ruling on the field of an incompletion.

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Against the Philadelphia Eagles, Meyers caught all three of his targets from Newton for 56 yards and a touchdown. While Newton is building chemistry with Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and the tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, he will still have Meyers as a familiar face to lean on early in the season.

Just watching Meyers play, it’s hard to spot any damning weaknesses in his game. He certainly isn’t one of the faster receivers in the NFL, but his proficient route running helps him get open more often than not. He has also flashed the ability to make tough, athletic catches when the throw isn’t perfect.

Can Jakobi Meyers become an alpha receiver for the New England Patriots?

As of right now the New England Patriots do not have a definitive number one receiver. While it’s likely to stay that way with a balanced attack, the player who has the best chance at switching to that next gear out of this group is Meyers.

Meyers is entering just his third season in the NFL at 24-years-old, and has shown he belongs on the field with the way he played in his first two years. This is an excellent opportunity for him to take the next step and become the focal point of this offense.

While there are more mouths to feed than there were last year, that also means that there will be less defensive focus on Meyers now that there are more legitimate threats in the passing game. Due to the trust already established between Meyers and Cam Newton, he should be a security blanket in this new look offense.

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Don’t be surprised if Jakobi Meyers once again leads the New England Patriots in targets and receptions in 2021. By the end of the season, he may be discussed as one of the more underrated players in football.