Packers 2021 post-draft position review: Defensive line

Green Bay Packers, Kenny Clark (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Kenny Clark (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The defensive line has been an area of concern for the Green Bay Packers in recent years, and is partly to blame for the team’s struggles to stop the run.

A big question this year, like in previous seasons, is whether the Packers have done enough to strengthen the defensive line or whether they could struggle up front defensively once again.

There’s still time to build along the defensive line by signing a free agent or two, but let’s look at who’s on the roster currently with the draft now a month ago.

Currently on the roster

Kenny Clark, Kingsley Keke, Tyler Lancaster, Dean Lowry, T.J. Slaton, Willington Previlon, Anthony Rush, Delontae Scott, Jack Heflin

Offseason moves

The Packers brought back Tyler Lancaster, who was a restricted free agent. Montravius Adams signed a deal with the New England Patriots.

In the draft, Green Bay selected T.J. Slaton out of Florida in the fifth round.

Improved from 2020?

Slaton should help the run defense this season and I’m excited to see what role he will play in Joe Barry’s system. But it’s possible he will begin as a backup and play on early downs.

Otherwise, this group remains mostly the same for 2021.

Key player

Kenny Clark.

One of the Packers’ best defensive players, Clark has started 57 games over the past four seasons. He’s spent most of his time playing at nose tackle. Clark is an excellent interior pass rusher and has 14 sacks and 22 quarterback hits since the start of 2018.

Clark is not only the key player along the defensive line, but one of the most important players on the entire roster.

Positon outlook

Have the Packers done enough to fix the defensive line? I’m not convinced.

I like the Slaton pick. He’s a good addition to the defense. But it’s surprising Green Bay didn’t do more in the offseason. Signing a free agent or using an early pick in the draft would’ve made a ton of sense.

Success on defense starts up front. This defensive line has struggled up against strong offensive lines in recent years, and good rushing attacks have had no trouble moving the ball on the ground against the Packers. What will make that any different in 2021? Hopefully Joe Barry’s scheme will help, but the team might also need to sign a veteran between and now and the start of the season.