Kenny Clark was drafted as a nose tackle way back in 2016, but he really hasn’t operated as a true nose in a while — if there is such a thing in the 2022 NFL.
As he’s aged, the Packers have been more and more willing to move him out of his traditional nose tackle role and even out of the tackle position entirely. In fact, 2021 represented the high-water mark of a now three-year-long trend that has Clark spending more and more time at defensive end.
Your mileage with Pro Football Focus may vary, but their charting data helps us identify some interesting things s in player usage. PFF charts nine different alignments for defensive linemen broadly broken down into three main groups: nose tackle, 3-technique, and defensive end. You can quibble with their definitions, but their data seems like a pretty good representation of where a defensive lineman (i.e. not an edge rusher) could line up on a given play.
In his career, Clark has spent time at all nine of those positions, but sorting his snaps into the three broadest buckets (nose tackle, 3-tech, and end), a trend emerges: Kenny Clark is spending a lot less time as a nose tackle and a lot more time as a defensive end.
In 2021, Clark played about 30% of his snaps as an end, almost double the time he spent as a nose.
Clark was effective in that role last year, recording four sacks and registering a career-high 13 quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Reference.
The Packers, meanwhile, seem to be taking strides to make sure Clark can continue playing that role. They added Devonte Wyatt via the draft and Jarran Reed via free agency, giving them more options to move around on the line in hopes of bringing Clark some favorable matchups. And with Rashan Gary more than willing to bump inside as a stand-up rusher in the vein of Za’Darius Smith, it’s likely we’ll continue to see Clark a little bit further outside than we did in the past.