The Green Bay Packers are in the middle of OTAs this week, but we at Acme Packing Company are winding down the countdown for our ranking of the team’s 90-man roster. We’re down to the top four players, and the fourth player on our list is the top defensive player on our list.
That player is entering his fourth year in the NFL, and he ranks as one of Ted Thompson’s finest draft picks of his final few years. Thankfully, he is under contract for another two seasons at least, and expect the team to make a major investment in him in relatively short order.
Stay tuned for player number three later on Thursday.
4. Kenny Clark, defensive lineman
The Green Bay Packers got a good one in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Clark was the second of four defensive tackles taken in the first round of that draft, going behind Sheldon Rankins at 12 and ahead of Robert Nkemdiche at 29 and Vernon Butler at 30. Of the four, it’s no stretch to argue that Clark both had the best start to his career and has the greatest potential moving forward.
Fast and nimble for his size, Clark epitomizes a Ted Thompson defensive lineman draft pick, particularly when considering the fact that he was the youngest player in his draft class. Clark turned 21 during October of his rookie season, and he will turn 24 this fall. His youth provided the Packers with the ability to harness his already-impressive physical tools and enhance them as he was still developing physically, and his late-season surge in 2017 (4.5 sacks over the final five games) opened many eyes before his breakout 2018 campaign.
In a base 3-4 line, Clark is excellent as an anchoring nose tackle. However, he is adept as an interior pass-rusher on a two-man line as well, as he was a consistent pass-rushing presence with six sacks a year ago. Clark also has a nose for the football, forcing three fumbles and recovering two in the past two seasons while starting every one of his 28 games.
Somehow, Clark was held out of the Pro Bowl a year ago, but that should change in 2019, provided he stays healthy. He also earned the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, keeping him in Green Bay through at least 2020 — and a large contract extension seems likely either sometime this calendar year or next offseason. Without question, Clark is the best player on the line now, surpassing Mike Daniels for that title, and he ranks on our countdown as the best player on the Packers’ entire defense.