Bill Belichick compares current Patriots’ receiver to Julian Edelman

Oct 9, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

Throughout Bill Belichick’s tenure with the Patriots, several under-the-radar players, especially undrafted free agents, have thrived from his coaching. The latest edition to that lengthy list is current WR1, Jakobi Meyers.

Joining the Patriots as a UDFA in 2019, Meyers entered the league as a former quarterback turned receiver. His career in the NFL started slow but he quickly became a pillar of the team’s offense throughout the challenges they faced from Tom Brady’s departure. From Cam Newton to Mac Jones, to Brian Hoyer and Bailey Zappe, he has earned the title of Mr. Reliable and continues proving to be a valuable asset, no matter who’s throwing the football.

When speaking to the media on Friday ahead of the Patriots’ matchup with the Browns on Sunday, Belichick spoke about Meyers’ rise to stardom and compared what he’s seen from him to a future Patriots Hall of Famer.

"“Honestly, we’ve had a lot of guys like that. Come in as a rookie free agent, expectations are low immediately. But then as things start to improve, such as his blocking and his overall route running and instinctiveness and savviness. Different, but kind of like Edelman in the development. Not saying they’re the same player. They’re not. But Edelman’s a guy who didn’t play much for a while and then became a great, great receiver here — one of the most dependable players we’ve ever had. That certainly wasn’t the case in Year 2 or Year 3, as he was in that development stage.”"

The comparison may initially seem silly to some, given how early on Meyers is in his career. But both receivers have similar stories before and during their years spent in New England.

Edelman joined the Patriots as a seventh-round selection with most analysts assuming he would be used for wildcat formations. That inevitably didn’t happen and he quickly switched to playing as a receiver. Although Meyers transitioned to catching passes much earlier, both have the same foundation in their football careers.

Their knowledge stemming from the eyes of a quarterback has been useful to them individually and also to the team. The ability to see the game in ways outside of their given position is not something most players have the benefit of, giving both Edelman and Meyers an added element to their performance.

Belichick went on to discuss the similarities between the two and explained how their positional backgrounds have helped their development overall.

"“It’s taking the coaching and the instruction and applying it to fundamentals, to understanding our offense, to understanding the opponent’s defense, and leverage, and spacing and things like that, which players like Julian [Edelman] and Jakobi are both good examples of players who played quarterback, however good they were or weren’t a quarterback, that’s not really the point. The point is that they’ve seen the ball coming from their hand, as opposed to always being on the receiving end of it. Kind of where you wouldn’t want to throw, and how a receiver can help a quarterback, or how a receiver can kind of fool a quarterback and make it hard for the quarterback to throw it to them. So, I think in terms of being quarterback friendly, let’s call it, that’s something that I’d say came naturally to him.”"

On top of their comparable football beginnings, Edelman became a mentor to Meyers in the two seasons they played together. It was another instance all too familiar for the veteran, as his start with the Patriots also began under the guidance of a top New England talent in Wes Welker.

Since earning his place atop the Patriots’ receiving depth chart, Meyers has become the most trusted target of all quarterbacks to take the field for the team. His growth and reliability continue to impress. And through the last two seasons, he has led the team in catches and receiving yards despite the number of receivers added around him.

Belichick wasn’t short on compliments when discussing Meyers’ development and made a point to mention how well-rounded he is at the receiver position.

"“He’s developed route running concepts and techniques at multiple positions, inside, outside, play-action, drop-back, quicker throws, knowing when he has more time to operate, knowing when he has to get open quicker, things like that, based either on the timing of the play or the situation. So, he’s a very smart, savvy football player on a lot of levels. Not just in the passing game, but in the running game and in other formations and things like that. It’s been a great time of growth for him. It’s really fun to see guys develop like that. Come in and not be very far along but then progressively just keep stacking, and stacking, and stacking and stacking.”"

Making his return to the field last week after missing two games, Meyers ascended as the top target for Zappe, totaling seven receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown. As the Patriots continue to face question marks at quarterback and who will be suiting up on Sunday remaining unclear, one thing is certain; Meyers’ dependability and production will elevate the offense and hopefully lead the team to another win.