The comparisons are inevitable. Rob Meier is a very young and raw version of Joel Smeenge, from Meier's tall, slender and stronger-than-he-looks physique, to his man-of-a-few-words demeanor. Now, all Meier has to do is stay in the league another 10 years, as Smeenge has.
"It was great. I'm thankful for every opportunity I get," Meier said of his first serious NFL action, in the Jaguars' overtime win in Dallas.
Others had more to say about the way Meier played that day. Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin praised his rookie's play, and Meier's position coach, John Pease, marvels at the job his young pupil did against veteran Pro-Bowl tackle Erik Williams.
"He's surprisingly strong. He stood Erik Williams up right at the point of attack. Erik didn't move him off the ball at all," Pease said.
If there is a silver lining to the injuries the Jaguars have experienced, especially on their offensive and defensive lines, it is that young players such as Meier have stepped in and played well enough to at least establish themselves as depth players. It is the best to expect from a seventh-round draft choice.
"He's just a good, hard-working, tough kid. He's been a very pleasant surprise. When you take someone late in the draft, numerically he's not supposed to make it," Pease said.
Meier was in danger of not making the Jaguars final roster this summer. His training camp performance was largely undistinguished, until the final preseason game, when he physically manhandled Falcons second-round pick Travis Claridge.
"That game, we kind of decided. It was a close call who we were going to keep around here," Pease said.
"He reminds me of what Joel was like when he was young," said Pease, who was on the New Orleans Saints staff when Smeenge was a third-round draft choice in 1990. "You're talking about a Smeenge-type player," Pease added.
"Rob's really improved over the year," offensive tackle Tony Boselli said of the rookie defensive end. "He plays the run real well and he's starting to develop as a pass-rusher."
At Washington State, Meier was impressive enough to have been the first pick of the Canadian Football League draft prior to Meier's senior season at WSU.
"I wanted to finish my education," Meier said of his decision to not sign with the British Columbia Lions. "The NFL is a much better league and there was no question I wanted to try this first. I just wanted to give it my best shot."
He gave it his best shot against the Cowboys, and established himself as a player who fits into the Jaguars' plans for the future.
"I'm not looking ahead. I'm just trying to get better," Meier said, in his Smeenge-like soft-spoken way.