The Green Bay Packers simply weren’t good enough in 2022.
Even had they sneaked past the Detroit Lions in Week 18 and made the playoffs, it was unlikely the team would have advanced much further thanks to their inconsistency and inability to get the most from their players. However, the offseason represents a chance to find out what is wrong and reevaluate whether they have the correct men playing in the right spots. The team needs to objectively view the starting roster and determine areas to improve.
Center is a sneaky spot the Packers should look to upgrade. Despite Josh Myers playing the most offensive snaps of any player (he only missed three snaps against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3), the former second-round pick was inconsistent. While Green Bay’s offensive line came together after a rocky start, it fell apart in the season finale. Despite his draft pedigree, Myers’ job as the starting center shouldn’t be a guarantee entering 2023.
After playing only six games in his rookie season, Myers started every game at center in 2022. While the rest of the line shuffled due to injuries or performance, Myers was a steady presence in the middle.
But availability might have been his best trait because Myers wasn’t spectacular. He had some great performances and built chemistry with collegiate rival Jon Runyan Jr. as the season went on, but he had a few botched snaps and often struggled in the run game.
Of Green Bay’s five preferred starters (David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Myers, Runyan, and Yosh Nijman), Myers had the lowest PFF score, with 60.4. Rookie Zach Tom also beat Myers’ score with an impressive 68.3.
Myers didn’t fare any better under Packer Report’s Andy Herman’s rankings. He was Herman’s second-lowest-graded offensive player, with a -4.15, behind only Royce Newman. Myers also had the highest number of negatively graded games, with 12.
While Myers is talented, it’s clear the Packers didn’t get enough from their sophomore center. What’s worse? He will forever be linked to fellow 2021 draftee center Creed Humphrey. Viewed as the better prospect, the Kansas City Chiefs took Humphrey one spot after Myers, who was PFF’s top-ranked center this season.
With much of his rookie year a scratch, the hope is that Myers takes a big step in Year 3 and becomes the player Brian Gutekunst imagined. However, the Packers can’t bank on that as their only option.
Jake Hanson sits behind Myers on Green Bay’s roster. He’s a guy the team envisioned as a Lucas Patrick-like player capable of playing anywhere along the interior. Hanson didn’t look like an NFL-capable starter at any point this season, and he’s unlikely to compete with Myers for the starting job.
Zach Tom is an impressive rookie who’s also on the roster. Tom played a bit of everywhere this season, with most of his regular-season playing time coming at tackle. Tom played left tackle in college, but there are doubts about his strength if he becomes a full-time tackle. Still, Tom also played 13 games at center with Wake Forest and would be well suited to the position at the NFL level thanks to his foot quickness and lateral movement.
It’s clear Tom is one of the Packers’ top-five offensive linemen, even at this early stage. Therefore, the coaching staff needs to find the best spot for him. If Yosh Nijman departs this off-season, Tom likely becomes the starting right tackle. If not, he should be in play at center.
Even if Tom doesn’t push for the center job, expect some rookies in play for the position. Gutekunst has drafted three offensive linemen in each of the last three drafts and found Elgton Jenkins in 2019. Gutekunst likes to take offensive linemen like they’re going out of style, and Green Bay is historically good and finding star linemen in the later rounds. Even if the Packers are higher on Myers than the rest of us, there isn’t much depth at the position. He’ll likely draft at least one player with center experience, ideally someone who can push Myers for the starting job.
Myers barely has two seasons under his belt, so it’s far too early to declare he’s hit his ceiling. But this team clearly isn’t good enough, and tough decisions need to be made to upgrade the roster. Myers was drafted to immediately fill the void left by fellow Ohio State center Corey Linsley, but thus far he’s been inconsistent. At the very least, the Packers need to bring in some competition to push for the starting center job. Myers deserves the chance to prove why he was a second-round pick, but his starting spot should not be a certainty going into the 2023 season.