Former Ohio State center Corey Linsley left the Green Bay Packers in March after seven seasons with the franchise for a free-agent deal with the Los Angeles Chargers that made him the NFL’s highest-paid player at his position.
The Packers had to look no further than Linsley’s alma mater to find his replacement, though, as they selected Josh Myers with the No. 62 overall pick in this year’s draft.
“It would mean everything to me just to be able to come in and do that,” Myers said during his introductory conference call on April 30. “He’s just such a great player and to follow him up is a big task that I’m excited to get a shot at. To go to an organization like Green Bay and to be a part of everything that they have going on there, to be a family and to meet those guys in the locker room, I’m just so excited. I just can’t wait.”
While wearing the same No. 71 that Linsley donned in Columbus, the 6-foot-5 and 310-pound Myers started 21 games at center for the Buckeyes over the last two seasons. He was named a team captain by his peers and first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media during his junior season in 2020, which is why Green Bay chose him over the likes of other highly regarded centers like Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey and Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Quinn Meinerz.
“I’m excited to be able to talk about Josh,” Packers director of college scouting Matt Malaspina said that same evening. “He’s a great kid, he’s smart, he’s tough, he’s strong. You know, typical Ohio State guy. Loves ball. Highly successful kid from a really good lineage in his family. His dad and his brother played at Kentucky. His mom's a Hall of Famer at Dayton for basketball. It's really important for Josh to be another great offensive lineman out of Ohio State, which he is.”
Malaspina, who worked with Ohio State head coach Ryan Day when he was the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, was in attendance for the Buckeyes’ wins over Michigan State and Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game last season, though Myers did not play in the former after he tested positive for coronavirus. But it’s what he saw in the latter, when Myers suffered a turf-toe injury that required offseason surgery, that sold him on Myers being a perfect fit for the Green Bay organization.
“It was extremely painful to play through it,” Myers said of the injury. "I just felt like I owed it to myself and to my teammates, our coaches and everyone at Ohio State to kind of gut it up and play through it, give ourselves a shot at the national championship.
“To be honest, I knew there was a chance it could hurt me going into the NFL Draft, but it was just one of those things, I felt like I needed to do it whether it hurt me or not because it's what was best for the team. I definitely plan on bringing that same team-first mentality to Green Bay."
Myers – who coincidentally had his surgery with Dr. Robert Anderson in Green Bay – is the fourth Ohio State center to be drafted in the last five years, joining Pat Elflein in 2017, Billy Price in 2018 and Michael Jordan in 2019. Having the opportunity to learn under the last two, as well as go up against elite defensive linemen in practice every day, also made the Packers confident in their selection.
“When you talk about Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame – programs that play in the championship game – these guys practice against each other and a lot of these guys are going to go to the NFL, so that matters,” Malaspina said. “Most of the development comes in practice and they’re facing future NFL players, so it’s an ‘iron sharpens iron’ type of deal.”
Myers also notably received rave reviews during the pre-draft process from Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and assistant athletic director for football sports performance Mickey Marotti.
“He’s a really good addition to the Packers organization,” Malaspina said. “He was a team captain, and that’s a big deal, especially as an offensive lineman. And as I said before, it’s very important for him to be viewed along the same lines as those great Ohio State centers. He’s going to graduate with a degree in consumer science this May, he’s a good student, he’s football smart, he loves ball. I mean, he is the perfect representative for Ohio State. He’s what you want, whether you were running a corporation or a football team.”
Myers will now compete with Elgton Jenkins and Lucas Patrick for the starting role as a rookie.
“He’ll have to earn it like everybody else,” Malaspina said. “Nothing is given in this league, but things are stacked in his favor. He’s the right kind of guy you want to go out there with. I have full confidence that he’ll give his best effort. We’ll see what happens after that, but we anticipate good things.”
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