The Green Bay Packers have invested heavily in the offensive line since Brian Gutekunst became the general manager. Josh Myers was one of their big bets, a center from Ohio State they drafted in the second round last year. After a shaky rookie season, it’s imperative for Green Bay that Myers is more consistent in 2022.
It’s understandable why Myers had an up-and-down rookie campaign. First, the bar in Green Bay was so high after having Corey Linsley from 2014 to 2020. Linsley signed with the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency after being a first-team All-Pro in 2020, and the Packers drafted Myers to be the starter from Day 1. That’s hardly an easy task for a rookie, especially in such a cerebral position as center.
Myers also dealt with injuries. First, he missed the Week 5 game against the Cincinnati Bengals because of a finger issue. Then Myers suffered a serious knee injury a week later that demanded surgery and made him miss the next 10 games. He came back in time to play half of the Week 18 game against the Detroit Lions and the entire playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.
But as he enters his second season, Myers needs to become a starter Green Bay can rely on. The main reason is that there are no great alternatives for the Packers. Last year’s backup center was Lucas Patrick, who just signed with the rival Chicago Bears. Elgton Jenkins, who has also played at center, is recovering from his knee injury and is better suited to play at left guard or right tackle.
It also carries weight that the Packers drafted Myers one pick earlier than Kansas City Chiefs lineman Creed Humphrey. Humphrey was almost unanimously viewed as a better prospect before the draft — he was the 41st prospect on The Athletic’s Consensus Big Board, while Josh Myers was the 71st. Humphrey had a great rookie season. He was selected to the PFWA All-Rookie Team and had a 91.4 PFF grade, while PFF gave Myers a below-average 58.3 grade.
Fortunately, Myers has some experience now and will have more time to work with Aaron Rodgers. Last training camp, the connection was not immediate.
“It’s funny, I jumped the gun a little bit early on the first play of the first practice,” Myers said last year. “I was just a hair early, and we had a conversation about that and how his cadences can be a little different.”
And, as Myers stressed last year, the mental component of the game is a big part of playing for such an intelligent quarterback.
“I would imagine that trust is not something that’s easily attained,” Myers said. “But I think through consistency and just proving myself day in and day out, and that’s not just physically, that’s every bit as much of a mental aspect of the game, too.”
Myers’ bad moments were often related to technique. In some instances, he was slow at the point of attack and lost his block almost immediately. Sometimes he didn’t know exactly what to do or who to block in a play, which could be more mental.
“Blocking, there’s a few technique things we’ve got to keep cleaning up and keep working on,” said Adam Stenavich after Myers’ debut last season against the New Orleans Saints. Stenavich was Green Bay’s offensive line coach last year, but they promoted him to offensive coordinator this season. “But I think it was a good start. We’ve just got to keep improving from there.”
Even if Myers had some inconsistency through his first NFL season, he had some good moments, too. The Packers probably took him over Humphrey because of system fit. Coming from Ohio State, Myers was more used to run-heavy schemes. That showed up against the Houston Texans during the preseason when he moved up downfield to block for a Kylin Hill receiving touchdown after a screen pass from Jordan Love.
Myers also had a good example of what he can add to the running game in a block against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3.
But it’s not about flashy plays with the offensive line. It’s about reliability. And that’s what Josh Myers must show in 2022.