Packers 2022 offseason position review: Defensive line

Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith, Kenny Clark - Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith, Kenny Clark - Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

Defensive line play has been an issue for the Green Bay Packers in recent years, but how did they perform throughout the 2021 season?

Getting Kenny Clark help has been something fans have been demanding for a few years now. Will that finally happen in the offseason?

Green Bay’s defense took a step forward in Joe Barry’s first season as defensive coordinator. With our review of the offensive positions complete, we move on to the defensive line.

2021 season review

The Packers’ defensive line was improved in 2021. A big reason for that was Kenny Clark, who had arguably the best season of his career and one that ended with his second Pro Bowl selection.

According to Pro Football Reference, Clark finished the year with four sacks, 48 tackles, and a career-best 13 quarterback hits. He also had career-bests in pressures (28) and hurries (15). It’s even more impressive when you consider how many double-teams Clark has to deal with.

Clark had help from Dean Lowry, who put together his best season with the Packers. According to Pro Football Reference, Lowry set career-bests in sacks (five), quarterback hits (nine) and pressures (16). He also had seven hurries.

Green Bay’s defense ranked 11th against the run, although that doesn’t tell the full picture. The Packers were tied for third-worst in yards per carry allowed, giving up 4.7. Teams just didn’t run at the Packers too often as they often fell behind in games.

They did save their best performance for the playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers.

Clark dominated with six tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, and two quarterback hits. Lowry had four tackles and a pass defense. San Francisco was held to 3.7 yards per carry, and just 106 yards passing to go with 106 yards rushing.

What’s next in 2022?

The defensive line had some good performances in 2021 but work is still required. While not the top priority this offseason, getting more help along the defensive line is needed.

Tyler Lancaster is an unrestricted free agent while Lowry has a cap hit of $8.07 million, according to Over The Cap. A contract extension could help that, but Lowry could also be a cap casualty.