Packers: 3 Pro Bowl-worthy players on Green Bay’s defense

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

Yes, the Pro Bowl is in many ways a glorified NFL popularity contest, and often doesn’t recognize the players that are in fact having the best seasons at their respective positions. However, the honor of being named to a Pro Bowl does mean something, at least it does to the players.

In some cases, a Pro Bowl bid can equate to player bonuses that are triggered right away via contract escalators, but its greatest value comes in contract negotiations down the road. Pro Bowl appearances are far from the be-all, end-all, but they can be used as a measuring stick to secure a similar or greater payday than someone else at their respective position.

The Green Bay Packers‘ defense in particular has been a significant bright spot under new defensive coordinator, Joe Barry. As it stands, the Packers have the fifth-best scoring defense in the NFL (20.2 PPG) and have been a breath of fresh air compared to years past. The defense wouldn’t be playing at the level they are without several key players having standout seasons.

With Pro Bowl rosters set to be announced on December 20, I highlight the three players on the defensive side of the ball that I feel are most deserving of a Pro Bowl bid this season.

Inside linebacker – De’Vondre Campbell

You’d be hard pressed to find another free-agent signing that’s been as impactful as De’Vondre Campbell has been for Green Bay. It’s not often someone signed for the veteran minimum turns in the best season of their career at age 28, but here we are.

Campbell has registered 99 tackles, four pass deflections, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles in just 12 starts for Green Bay.

Campbell has been a sound tackler (only four missed tackles all season), done a good job in coverage and has proven to be one of the defense’s most durable players in a season hit with injuries.

His impact has been magnified due to the inadequacy of inside linebacker play for the Packers over the better part of the last decade, but the defense wouldn’t be where it is today without Campbell manning the middle.

EDGE rusher – Rashan Gary

In year three, Rashan Gary is playing like the first-round pick the franchise hoped he would one day become. His developmental arc has been steadily trending upward, and now the former Michigan standout is breaking out in a big way.

Gary’s sack total isn’t one that’ll jump off the page (6.5), but he’s consistently beating his man and wrecking havoc on quarterbacks – while doing a nice job defending the run.

Per Pro Football Reference, Gary has registered a team-leading 50 pressures and 12 quarterback hits.

I am completely understanding that to the casual football fan, Gary isn’t yet a household name – but that shouldn’t take away from the fact he’s been among the best EDGE rushers in the NFL this season. My fear is that he’ll be skipped over in favor of someone with more a more gaudy sack total, but Packers fans know he’s more than deserving of the honor.

Nose tackle – Kenny Clark

Few superstars get less fanfare than Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark, and it has everything to do with the position he plays.

The NFL lumps together nose tackles regardless of the system they play in (4-3/3-4), so it’s going to be hard for a defensive lineman like Clark to ever register the counting stats others at the position are capable of.

No matter what way you slice it, Clark has been one of Green Bay’s best players this season. Per Pro Football Reference, Clark has totaled four sacks, is second on the team in pressures (47), and leads the team in hurries (38) in 12 games.

Clark has been disruptive on the defensive line all season long and is the glue of Green Bay’s defense, but he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. He’s more than deserving of a Pro Bowl bid this season – hopefully he’ll be too busy to actually play in the game though.

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