GREEN BAY, Wis. – With their All-Pro center leaving in free agency and their All-Pro left tackle rehabbing a torn ACL, the Green Bay Packers entered Day 2 of the NFL Draft with a glaring need on the offensive line.
One by one, the offensive tackles disappeared from general manager Brian Gutekunst’s draft board. At No. 39, Chicago traded up for Teven Jenkins. At No. 42, Miami traded up for Liam Eichenberg. At No. 45, Jacksonville traded up for Walker Little. At No. 46, Cincinnati traded up for Jackson Carman. At No. 51, Washington landed Samuel Cosmi. At No. 53, Tennessee grabbed Dillon Radunz.
At least the center board stayed strong. With Gutekunst hanging tight at No. 62, he had three excellent options: Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey, who allowed zero sacks in 2020 and scored a perfect 10 in Relative Athletic Score, Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Quinn Meinerz, whose meteoric rise started at the Senior Bowl and continued with testing numbers practically on par with Humphrey’s, and Ohio State’s Josh Myers, who couldn’t go through testing because of toe surgery.
Gutekunst went with Myers, the latest in a long line of Ohio State centers that started with Nick Mangold in 2006 and continued with Corey Linsley in 2014, Pat Elflein in 2017 and Billy Price in 2018.
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“It was a pretty good center class up at the top this year, and I thought we had some options,” Gutekunst said after Humphrey went to Kansas City immediately after Myers and Meinerz went to Denver late in the third round. “But Josh, his size, his athleticism, his power, how smart he is, what they asked him to do at Ohio State and understanding he could handle some of that here, I think was intriguing to us. I think he fit what we’re all about.”
Myers was offered a scholarship to Ohio State as a high school freshman and committed as a sophomore. He was the Buckeyes’ two-year starting center, earning first-team all-conference in 2020 despite a bout with COVID and then a turf-toe injury that required surgery. In a unique twist, that injury kept him out of the Senior Bowl and paved the way for Meinerz.
“He’s quick to snap and step. He can run the zone stuff,” director of college scouting Matt Malaspina said of Meyers. “He’s got good body control in space. As I keep saying, he’s a strong-moving athlete but he’s coordinated and fundamentally sound, so he’s not falling all over himself, which is really important as an interior offensive lineman for us. Whether you talk to Steno [offensive line coach Adam Stenavich] or Luke [Butkus, the assistant], being able to use your quickness and strength to stay on your feet is his skill set and what made us so attracted to him.”
So did his size. At 6-foot-5 1/4, he’s significantly taller than the man he could potentially replace in the starting lineup, Linsley (6-2 5/8). Humphrey is 6-foot-4 1/4 and Meinerz is 6-foot-2 7/8. Furthermore, of the 72 centers invited to the Scouting Combine over the last decade, only Ethan Pocic and Graham Glasgow (6-foot-6) are taller. At a position in which leverage is critical, being tall isn’t a detriment, Malaspina said.
“He can bend, so it’s not like he’s falling all over himself,” Malaspina said. “To have those long levers and to be able to have that kind of size, you can cover those interior guys up, and when you’re running the reach blocks you’re just longer than a 6-2 guy and you can get there quicker. He’s a big, powerful man.”
The athleticism comes from growing up in a family of athletes. His dad was an offensive lineman at Kentucky, his mom was a basketball player at Dayton and an older brother was an offensive lineman at Kentucky.
Myers said his mom is the best athlete in the family. That may be true, but it’s the 22-year-old whose dreams came true on Friday. Having followed in the footsteps of his dad and brother, now he’ll follow in the footsteps of Linsley, the team’s steady starter the past seven seasons.
“It would mean everything to me to come in and be able to do that,” he said. “You know, he’s such a great player and to follow him up is a big task that I’m excited to get a shot at.”