The most important rookie in the Green Bay Packers training camp this summer is not first round draft pick Eric Stokes. It’s not receiver Amari Rodgers. The most important rookie, and it’s not even close, is center Josh Myers. In fact, he may be the key to the entire offensive line.
How significant is Myers to the Packers? Consider this. They drafted him in the second round. Centers don’t get drafted in the second round. The last time Green Bay drafted a center that high was in 1967, when Vince Lombardi took Bob Hyland in the first round. (It is true that the Packers took Elgton Jenkins in the second round in 2019. He played center at Mississippi State, but Green Bay always projected him as a guard.)
It is critical that Myers be good enough to start this year. That would allow Jenkins to fill in at left tackle until David Bakhtiari can return. If Myers can’t start, Jenkins will have to play center, meaning Billy Turner has to play left tackle, and then it’s fill-in-the-blank on the right side.
Is Myers talented enough? Ohio State offered him a football scholarship when he was a freshman in high school. Urban Meyer, then the coach of the Buckeyes and now coaching the Jacksonville Jaguars, made the offer after watching tape of the youngster. In 2020 he was first team all Big Ten, 2nd team All American.
He’s also a leader, another requirement of the position. He was voted captain at Ohio State. And you could say he was born to play center. His grandfather was a center. His father was a center. His brother was a center. He has a sense of loyalty, respect and tradition. He honored his father by wearing dad’s jersey number (71) throughout college, except for one game, when he wore number 50 to pay tribute to his grandfather. He continues to wear 71 for the Packers.
But mostly, he is tough. He had to be. He grew up constantly rough housing with older brothers Zach and Brett. According to an article by Nathan Baird for Cleveland.com, Josh was playing tackle football in the backyard with his siblings about ten years ago. The 13 year old beat his brother Zach, five years his senior, on a pass route. Josh proceeded to trash talk his bro, which led to a shove, and a fight. Apparently, Zach threw him into the basement wall, splitting open a big wound in his head. Go to the hospital? Nah. Josh’s mother, a physician, stitched him up in the living room, and Josh went on about his business.
On the last play of the 2020 Big Ten championship game, Myers suffered a turf toe injury. Anyone familiar with those knows how painful they can be and how long they take to heal. Writer Baird picks up the story from there:
“Myers rehabbed non-stop for the playoff semifinal against Clemson. He could not practice and only managed a couple of walk-throughs. Midway through the third quarter, after planting his left foot to redirect and pick up a block on an outside zone play, he felt a “pop.” That was the sesamoid bone in his big toe breaking in multiple places, and a tendon avulsion pulling off of the bone. Myers finished the game, then spent the next 10 days underselling the extent of the injury to Ohio State’s medical team.”
Eventually, the foot injury required surgery. He was still taking rehab treatments as late as Packers’ rookie mini-camp. No problem. He sucked it up and took most of the first team reps with the offense during OTAs. It’s clear the Packers feel he can step in and start.
I love this guy already. I’m pulling for him. Is he the answer at center? One thing is for sure. It won’t be too tough for him.
Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.