Kenny Clark: The anchor of the Packers’ defense in 2022

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

Kenny Clark is the present and the future of the Green Bay Packers‘ defense.

He has been one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL for the last half-decade. He is a cornerstone piece of this franchise. The former UCLA Bruin is on his way to at the very least becoming a Packers Hall-of-Famer and possibly, a Pro Football Hall-of-Famer.

First off, it’s important to know that Clark has been in the NFL for six seasons but is still just 26 years old. To put that into context, college players hoping to get drafted must play a minimum of three seasons of college football before going to the league. Clark came into the league as a 20-year-old rookie. He is both experienced and young. New Packers DT Jarran Reed has been in the league for six seasons. He is 29. Clark’s youth is incredible.

Let’s look at his overall play. Hint: It’s really, really solid. Clark is the anchor of this Green Bay Packers defense, especially the defensive line. He has improved in at least one major defensive category every season.

From his rookie season in 2016 to 2017, he improved from one tackle for loss to six tackles for loss. After having no sacks as a rookie, he went on to have 4.5 sacks in 2017 and a career-high 6.0 sacks in both 2018 and 2019. He set a career-high in tackles in 2019 with 62. In 2020, which some might argue was his worst statistical season, he had his lowest missed tackle percentage of his career at 4.5%.

Last season, he set a career-high in QB pressures and QB hits. He has only missed eight games out of a possible 97 in his career. He regularly sees double teams. He is a load to block. At 6-foot-3, 315 lbs, teams have to stick two offensive linemen on him more often than not, which allows openings for other pass-rushers and run-stuffers.

It’s important to remember that GM Brian Gutekunst went out to get No. 97 some help. The recent signing of Jarran Reed, who is mean up front, will make offensive coaches have to worry about more than just Clark.

But make no mistake about it, Clark is a star who doesn’t get talked about in the same light that Aaron Donald, Chris Jones, and Fletcher Cox get talked about. He is an elite player who deserves your respect. Green Bay is in a really good place heading into 2022, especially along the defensive front with Kenny Clark leading the charge right now and into the future.