Awhile ago, I unveiled a breakdown of the 2019 wide receiver class by expected future position. While the main difference between the X, Z and slot receiver comes in their alignment, there are differing skill sets at the same position.
For example, Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown is a dynamic vertical threat while Ohio State’s Parris Campbell is more of an underneath, yards after catch mismatch. Despite these two prospects projecting to play the same slot receiver “position,” they figure to fill different roles at the next level. There’s another role that future slot receivers can fill: a reliable, possession-type who is called upon to move the chains.
There will undoubtedly be an NFL team looking to a receiver to fill that role during the NFL Draft, and that team will be looking at Jakobi Meyers.
I’ve previously written about Meyers, breaking down an insane highlight play of his. Today, we will look deeper into his overall game.
At a shade under 6’2 and 203 pounds, Meyers offers more size than the typical player who operates on the slot. On top of his size, Meyers’ had a measly drop rate of 3.7% this past season.
The size and soft hands are obviously a nice foundation, but receivers still have to be able to create throwing windows with route their running. Meyers does a masterful job of this.
The initial thing that sticks out about Meyers’ route running is his crisp footwork. Identifying refinement in a wide receivers footwork comes down to a number of things:
- Eliminating wasted movements, whether that be extra steps on a break or picking feet up too high off the ground during breaks
- Bodyweight being on the in-step of their feet
- Proper angles of breaks and the ability to accelerate no matter the angle of the cut
This rep against Boston College showed a number of examples of Meyers’ refinement in his route running. While some people may only see a simple four yard gain, I see multiple traits on display. Meyers is able to operate in close quarters without being contacted by the defensive back because of the shiftiness in his hips. When he makes his break, notice how his angle is pointed slightly back towards the line of scrimmage. Meyers was smart to push his stem past the first down marker, then angle back towards the line of scrimmage to cut-off any angle the defensive back had to recover. Upon catching the ball, he turns up the sideline to pick an extra yard past the first down marker.
These small nuances and subtle techniques are shown all over Meyers film. He’ll win inside against press coverage and create a throwing window on the slant with ease. Again, this all starts because of his footwork and how comfortable he is pressing onto the toes of the defensive back.
Meyers is comfortable in traffic when defensive backs have him leveraged, once again proving his soft hands and concentration. Despite Boston College safety Will Harris working to take away the out route and disrupting the catchpoint, Meyers stayed on time with his break and created just enough space to fit the ball in along the sideline.
Meyers isn’t a natural field stretcher, but his adjustments to the catchpoint gives him potential to win through traffic. Meyers will consistently pluck the ball out of the air when the opportunity is there, showing off his plus ball skills.
On his horizontal breaks, Meyers does an excellent job of staying defined in his cuts. On top of that, he’s showed off patience and hesitations that can momentarily freeze defensive backs, as well as the use of head fakes to sell breaks in the opposite direction.
Meyers only has 9 touchdowns over the past two seasons, but shows a certain level of prowess getting open in the red zone. Similar to his knowledge of the first down marker, Meyers will create space just past the goal line for the quarterback to fit throws into. This is a masterful job of using subtle moves while still staying on time with his route.
While I don’t view Meyers as a future focal point of a passing offense, his role will be a coveted one by an NFL team. Winning third down is crucial to winning games, so reliable chain movers can come at a premium. Expect Meyers to fill that role for a number of years in the league.