After a stellar 2019 season, I believe Green Bay’s Kenny Clark is in for an even bigger 2020. Let’s take a look at why I feel the young rising star is a player worth investing in.
In 2016, the Packers selected Kenny Clark with the 27th overall pick looking to improve their defensive line unit. Since then, Clark has steadily improved every year and is quickly becoming one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the league. At only 24 years old, he’s already logged four seasons in the league and had his fifth year option picked up by the Packers. Recently, Clark checked in at number 44 on Pro Football Focus’ top 50 players entering this upcoming season.
Kenny Clark 2016-2018
Stats: 44 games, 131 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 19 QB hits
In his rookie season, Clark played in all 16 games and started two of them. While he played in every game, he only logged 333 defensive snaps. Even though he played limited snaps as a rookie, the Packers knew they had a talented player in their 20-year-old rookie out of UCLA.
Year two was a different story. Clark earned a starting spot on the interior for the Packers’ defensive line and started and played in 15 games. He saw a significant increase in snaps playing 684 defensive snaps, doubling his rookie year total. While making good use of the added snaps, Clark went on to collect 55 total tackles, six tackles for loss, and four and a half sacks. He made his presence felt late in the year against rival Minnesota, in week 16, racking up five total tackles, two tackles for loss, and two sacks.
Building off a strong year two, Kenny Clark was having a standout third season. He played and started in 13 games logging 720 defensive snaps. His talent was really beginning to shine in defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to an elbow injury and he was placed on injured reserve. Through those 13 games, Clark tied his tackle total of 55 from the previous year and set career highs in tackles for loss (8), sacks (6) and quarterback hits (9).
Stats: 16 games, 62 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 7 QB hits
Kenny Clark had the best season of his career in 2019. He started and played in all 16 games for Green Bay and ended up earning his first Pro Bowl appearance. Clark was the anchor of Green Bay’s defensive line and stepped up big late in the year. In weeks 14-17, Clark compiled an impressive 21 total tackles, six tackles for loss, and four and a half sacks. While the Packers defense struggled to slow down the run last year, Clark certainly wasn’t to blame.
Against the Pass
Getting consistent pressure on the quarterback is crucial for a defense, and Clark provides that on a regular basis for Green Bay. As the graphic below shows, Clark is in good company when it comes to getting pressure from the interior.
Most total pressures among interior defenders in 2019
1. Aaron Donald – 80
2. Kenny Clark – 62
3. Cameron Heyward – 59
4. Chris Jones – 58 pic.twitter.com/gNldnsHijc
— PFF (@PFF) May 8, 2020
Not only did Clark get steady pressure on the quarterback, but he did some of his best work when it really counted on third down. Third down is known as the money down, and Clark was money when it counted last year for Green Bay.
Three players finished among the top 5 in 2019 in total QB pressures and pressure rate on 3rd down:
• Aaron Donald, Rams
• Justin Houston, Colts
• Kenny Clark, Packers
Benson Mayowa (Raiders) & Sam Hubbard (Bengals) generated pressure at a higher rate, but had less volume. pic.twitter.com/7AdEIkd0sW
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) May 19, 2020
Against the Run
Not only is Kenny Clark good rushing the pass rusher, but he is also stout against the run. On the play below, his quickness off the line is on display as he takes down the rusher for a loss.
Kenny Clark is too big and too strong to be this quick. pic.twitter.com/RdE5L6G8zM
— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) June 15, 2020
On this play, Clark’s explosiveness and hand technique are showcased as he takes down the runner behind the line.
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) November 13, 2018
2020 Contract Situation
As I said earlier, the Packers have exercised Clark’s fifth-year option for the 2020 season. Additionally, Green Bay would be crazy not to lock down their young star defensive lineman before the season begins. If Green Bay and Clark can’t come to an agreement on a deal, Clark will have a lot to play for this upcoming season. At only 24 years old, Clark could potentially be in a contract year and looking to cash in on his first big-time payday with his rookie deal coming to an end.
With DT required and DT premium IDP formats becoming more popular, Kenny Clark is a player I’m looking to target. Not only does he have value in DT required/premium leagues, but he also carries notable value in leagues that group it’s defensive lineman into a DL designation. Going after some of the other top defensive tackles (Donald, Buckner, Jones), Clark can be a solid value in drafts while potentially putting up similar numbers. I’d also be looking to acquire Clark in dynasty leagues where possible before his price goes up. His ascending talent and strong finish to the 2019 season make it appear a big 2020 is on the horizon.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article, I hope you enjoyed and found it helpful. You can find my work here at idpguys.org and follow me on Twitter @KBellf54. I’m always available for any questions or feedback you may have and my DMs are always open.