In college, Robert Emery Meachem played for the Tennessee Volunteers. He was a pretty good wide receiver back then. Some questioned his ability to make catches then, not high-pointing enough and catching too many balls with his body.
His production was none too shabby. He led the team with a career-high 71 catches for a school single-season record 1,298 yards (18.3 average) to lead the Southeastern Conference, including 11 touchdowns.
He also managed to become only the sixth player in the SEC to break the 2,000-yard receiving mark. None of which is too shabby when you consider that the guy throwing him the football was Erik Ainge.
Often the quarterback makes the wide receiver. In college sometimes the converse is true.
Unsurprisingly, he declared and was drafted 27th overall by the Saints. What is interesting, though, is that had he fallen another three places, it's likely that he was atop the board of another team if rumor is to be believed -- the San Diego Chargers. They ended up drafting another wide receiver, Craig "Buster" Davis, whose nickname of "Buster" was likely misspelt, being two letters too long as it stands.
It's difficult to discuss his role in the Saints offense without first discussing the unit as a whole. Sean Peyton -- like Norv Turner and other head coaches and offensive coordinators -- has a very clear vision of his offense. He has (effectively) two tight ends who can run a seam route as easily as one across the middle (Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham/Jeremy Shockey), and a stable of running backs he can choose to either power down the middle or play screen passes to. He also has a deep threat that helps keep defenses stretched to open up the space underneath.
That's Meachem's job - to pull as many defenders as far away from the line of scrimmage, and for as long as possible.
New Orleans "leads" the league in teams that target their wide receivers the fewest. The league norm is around 60 percent of passing plays target a wide receiver. For the Saints, it's 45 percent.
This is what leads to a lot of the mythos surrounding his production.
When teams try to take Colston, Graham or Darren Sproles away by putting an extra man in there, Payton and Brees can just as easily say, "thanks very much ... see ya" and drop a long ball in there. No problem. We've all seen the Saints play. We've all seen them happily move the chains before sending a cannon downfield.
I'd suggest that Meachem's NFL numbers are far from bad. Are they...