Packers: NFL Next Gen Stats highlights Kenny Clark’s dominance in 2019

Green Bay Packers, Kenny Clark and Preston Smith (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Kenny Clark and Preston Smith (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Kenny Clark was one of the NFL’s best defenders at generating pressure on third down in 2019.

The defensive line was a concern for the Green Bay Packers last season, but that had little to do with Kenny Clark.

Clark had a Pro Bowl season and, along with Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, played a crucial role when it came to rushing the passer.

According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Clark was one of only three players in the NFL to finish in the top five for both total third down pressures and also third down pressure rate. The other two? Aaron Donald and Justin Houston. That’s not bad company to be in.

Clark was tied for third in total pressures on third down with 23. Packers edge rusher Za’Darius Smith also had 23. Clark’s pressure rate on third down was 16.9 percent, tied with Donald for third-best.

This gives us a good indication of just why Clark is such an important part of Mike Pettine’s defense and another reason why the Packers need to work out a long-term deal as soon as they can. Clark’s contract is up at the end of the 2020 season.

For the first time in his career, Clark started all 16 games for the Packers in 2019. He tied his career-best in sacks with six, while also making seven quarterback hits and setting a new career-best in tackles with 62.

The Packers defense had no trouble getting pressure on quarterbacks last season and the addition of the Smith Bros. helped in a big way. The main concern was stopping the run, which the defense’s No. 23 ranking and performance in the NFC Championship Game highlighted.

Adding a top run-stopping defensive tackle should’ve been a priority, although free-agent signing Treyvon Hester will help.

One thing is for sure, though. Clark is a key piece in this defense and the Packers need to make sure he’s still in Green Bay beyond the 2020 season.