The Green Bay Packers are certainly in an interesting spot going into the 2023 season. They traded away future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers and are moving onto 2020 first round pick Jordan Love. While the question regarding whether or not Love will be a good professional quarterback is certainly the most important question that needs to be answered in 2023, the success of the team does not depend on him alone.
If the Packers are to improve from a disappointing 8-9 season, they will need other players to take massive steps forward and improve. PFF recently published their 2023 All-Breakout Team, and it included three Packers stars, a promising sign for a team in transition.
Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Christian Watson
For all of the fuss among fans that the Packers “need a first round receiver,” Christian Watson performed better than any rookie wide receiver ever had with Rodgers as his quarterback. Better than Jordy Nelson. Better than Randall Cobb. Better than Davante Adams.
The 2022 second round draft pick hauled in 41 passes for 611 yards and seven receiving touchdowns last season. He also added two more rushing scores, giving him a total of nine touchdowns as a rookie. He certainly showed flashes of being a premier wide receiver in the NFL when he scored eight touchdowns in the span of four games late in the season.
Of his potential to break out in 2023, PFF wrote:
“Watson had a boom-or-bust rookie year for Green Bay. This was most apparent in an early-season stretch where he went four consecutive games with no more than two receptions in any game before following that up with a four-game stretch where he caught seven touchdowns.
“Watson also finished top-10 in the NFL in YAC per reception (6.4) and contested catch rate (75% of his contested targets were caught) so with a full year under his belt, we could be in for an explosion from the second-year man out of North Dakota State.”
While it is fellow 2022 wide receiver Romeo Doubs that is getting the most recent headlines out of OTA’s, it is important to remember the sheer talent that Watson has. He is one of the fastest players in the league and will be an incredible downfield threat for years to come. It will be imperative for Love to master the downfield accuracy required for those boom plays as Watson can separate quickly from most defenders. If the two get on the same page, the Packers could have the second coming of the Rodgers-to-Nelson connection on their hands.
Green Bay Packers Defensive Lineman Devonte Wyatt
This is not the first time that Devonte Wyatt has been highlighted as a player that will/needs to breakout in 2023. Past instances can be found here:
- Devonte Wyatt Named as a NFL Sophomore Who Needs to Prove Himself in 2023
- Green Bay Packers Insider Names Devonte Wyatt as Team’s Most Important Defensive Player in 2023
And it’s not like those who pay attention to the Packers did not think Wyatt could have been a better player last year if given the chance. Packers Hall of Famer Gilbert Brown called for him to get more playing time back in December of 2022.
In other words, it is no surprise to see Wyatt on this team. Of his inclusion, PFF wrote:
“One of Green Bay’s two first-rounders in 2022, Wyatt didn’t start to see significant playing time until the last three games of the season, which featured his highest snap totals. He was a beast with the Packers’ season on the line against the Detroit Lions in Week 18, putting up a 90.6 defensive grade and a 92.2 pass-rush grade in that game. With the Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed departures, expect a big bump in playing time for Wyatt on the Packers’ defensive line.”
It is anyone’s guess why the Packers’ coaching staff decided NOT to put their best 11 on the field for most defensive snaps. However, the players ahead of Lowry on the depth chart are gone and they will have no choice. If he plays like he did after Dean Lowry got hurt, the Packers’ defensive line should be much improved.
Green Bay Packers Center Josh Myers
One could argue that 2023 is not only the season in which Josh Myers will break out, it is also the season that he needs to break out. A 2021 second round draft pick, Myers is entering the second-to-last season of his rookie contract. Green Bay coaches have come right out and said that the only jobs spoken for on the offensive line are left tackle (David Bakhtiari) and left guard (Elgton Jenkins). No other job is safe. If that is not a strong message that Myers simply has not been good enough, then what is?
Over his two seasons as Green Bay’s starting center, Myers has been below average in many ways. Below are his PFF grades over the last two seasons (overall, pass blocking, run blocking):
- 2021: 54.9, 65.9, 49.4
- 2022: 60.4, 74.3, 53.5
Those grades have placed Myers in the bottom quarter of NFL centers over the past two seasons. So why does PFF think 2023 will be a breakout year for him? They write:
“After being a second-round pick in 2021, Myers took on the starting center job for the Packers in 2022 and was about as average as they come. Myers’ PFF grade never dipped below 53.2 nor rose above 71.2 at any point in the season, leading to a 60.4 season-long grade.
“All of his grades improved over his rookie season, though, as his offensive grade jumped from 54.9 to 60.4 while his run blocking improved from 49.4 to 53.5 and his pass blocking went up from 65.9 to 74.3. With this continued improvement, look for Myers to make new starting quarterback Jordan Love’s life a lot easier in 2023.”
It appears that they see the improvements that Myers made from his rookie year to his second year as enough to warrant a belief that he will become even better in 2023. Perhaps playing with a quarterback that actually runs the playbook will help in this regard, too. However, if the Packers run a pure Matt LaFleur offense, there will be more running plays, and while his run blocking grade improved last season, it was still terrible.
The hard truth of the matter is the Green Bay has Zach Tom on their roster, and general manager Brian Gutekunst has said in the past he views him as a center. If Myers does not show noticeable improvement in camp, he could lose his starting spot before the season even begins.