Two potential starters.
The Green Bay Packers had themselves a terrific night at the NFL Draft Friday. The Packers drafted “plug-and-play” center Josh Myers of Ohio State in the second round, then traded up in Round 3 to take dynamic slot receiver Amari Rodgers of Clemson.
The duo figures to make a huge impact on a team that went 13-3 a year ago. And if Green Bay can resolve its differences with disgruntled quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Myers and Amari Rodgers could help the Packers make a run at their first Super Bowl since 2010.
“Two really high quality individuals, really good young men, that I think will fit very well within our team and locker room,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said of Myers and Rodgers. “I’m just really excited about what they can do on the field, but then also just kind of the character those men will bring to our locker room.”
The Packers had major concerns on their offensive line after losing center Corey Linsley in free agency. The health of David Bakhtiari (ACL), along with the departures of Lane Taylor and Ricky Wagner were problematic, as well.
But adding Myers is a terrific first step to keeping the line performing at a high level.
“A lot of confidence there,” Gutekunst said of adding Myers. “Like I said before, team captain. He was one of those centers who kind of ran the show there. He’s a little bit bigger than maybe some of the centers we’ve had in the past here, which is something that obviously I like, so he’s going to be a nice addition to our group.”
Myers was a two-year starter at OSU, and earned first-team all-Big Ten honors by the coaches and second-team honors by the media in 2020.
Myers is a big-bodied center with an impressive level of lateral mobility. His size works to his advantage against power players, but he can struggle against edge attacks.
He’s not a natural bender, but is extremely bright, makes all the calls up front and was a captain at OSU.
Myers played primarily guard until 2018, when the Buckeyes had a hole at center and he made the switch.
“He’s quick to snap and step,” Packers director of college scouting Matt Malaspina said. “He can run the zone stuff. 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. … 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.”
Gutekunst said when the Packers were on the clock in the second round, he narrowed his choices to Myers and Rodgers. After taking Myers, he told his people to find a way to trade up in the third round for Rodgers.
“We went with Josh because I think, the center and being a big guy,” Gutekunst said. “And immediately after I got off the phone, I turned around to see if we could get back up to get Amari.
“A couple of my guys had gone down to get something to eat, so we had to get everybody back on the phones fast. But we were trying pretty significantly to get up to go get Amari. It took us a little while longer than we wanted to. We paid a little bit of a price but I thought it was important because of the value of the player I wanted.”
Green Bay eventually gave up its third round pick and one of its two fourth rounders in a trade with Tennessee to move up and select Rodgers. According to several trade charts, the Packers overpayed slightly to make the deal. But Gutekunst didn’t mind.
“It was important that we acquired the player,” he said. “Obviously you never want to overpay too much, but we were really excited to get Amari.”
The Packers have always had an affinity for bigger receivers and an unwritten rule that they wouldn’t draft a receiver under 5-foot-10. But the 5-9 ½”, 212-pound Rodgers was potentially too dynamic to pass up.
Rodgers caught 77 passes for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020. Rodgers finished his 55-game Clemson career with 181 receptions for 2,144 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“He’s short but he’s not small,” Gutekunst said of Rodgers. “You know, he’s 212 pounds. When you see him, when you get up on him, he’s not a small man. He’s just not tall. So, I do think he’s a little different maybe than some of the other slot guys you see across the league because he’s just built a little bit more like a running back.
“So, he gave me great comfort because I think one of the things he does and I think you have to do in this league is you can’t run by everybody in this league, You’ve got to be able to take contact on and break tackles and he’s certainly one of the kind of guys that can do that.”
Rodgers ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds and recorded a 33-1/2” vertical jump on his pro day. He also bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times.
The Packers haven’t had a legitimate slot receiver since Randall Cobb left after the 2018 season. Cobb, a second-round pick in 2011, was just 5-foot-10 himself, but had 470 receptions and 41 touchdowns as a Packer.
Rodgers could be a dynamic weapon in the slot, and also help in the return game, which has been a problem in Green Bay for years.
“He is crafty. He is a technician at his position, and he is a guy that’s going to be ready day one since he can play multiple positions and is incredibly smart,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of Rodgers. “He is built like a running back, but he has the length of a 6-foot-3 wideout and plays long. He is a tough yards-after-the-catch guy and I think is one of those guys that, like I said, is a true pro and will be a leader from the moment he gets there.”