Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Kenny Clark had a frustrating rookie season, but bounced back nicely in 2017. Here’s why you can expect even more from him
However, after finishing the last four games of the 2016 season strong, Clark was primed for a better 2017. As it turned out, a better 2017 is what Clark had.
Last season, Clark started in each of the 15 games he played in. In those 15 games, he recorded 55 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and forced two fumbles.
Whats impressive about Clark’s 2017 campaign is how he recorded at least one assisted tackle a week. There was never a week he wasn’t in on at least one tackle, assisted or not. Also, each of his 4.5 sacks came over a four-week span from weeks 13-16 last season. Such as with his production at the end of 2016, Clark’s sack surge over the last few weeks of 2017 may be a sign more is to come this season.
In terms of Clark’s notoriety, playing alongside Mike Daniels doesn’t help him much. Daniels is one of the best and most feared defensive linemen in the NFL. What that means for Clark is most of the attention is on Daniels and what he does. And with Muhammad Wilkerson part of the defensive line now, he’s one more player to take attention away from Clark.
However, Clark will still find himself in the spotlight this season.
The soon to be 23-year-old is still very young for entering his third professional season. As a matter of fact, Clark will enter training camp as the Packers 13th youngest player out of 90. Although age is but a number, Clark’s age may signal he still has a lot of room to develop. If that’s the case, 2018 will be the year in which Clark is put on a league-wide scale.
Besides his statistics, Clark became a much more aware player last season. He made plays, such as the one below, that may not always show up in the books. However, they are plays that mean a lot to the defensive stand. They are plays that will go noticed by those who appreciate hustle and grit.
On the other hand, Clark’s hustle and grit may start to reflect in the stat book this season. His leverage on the line was great last season. He rarely took himself out of plays from being too high, thus, being blown off the line. Many of his snaps looked like the video below.
Again, the way he finished 2016 with tackles translated to 2017. Looking at the way he finished 2017 with sacks, more should be on the horizon in 2018. Of course, that’s speculation on my part. However, watching Clark play and taking note of the trends it’s hard to argue against.
He was already a fine run stopper in the second half of 2016 and all of 2017. 2017 is where he became more of a threat in the pass-rush. Even though he has 4.5 sacks to account for, Clark found his way into the backfield much more than some may think. Even if he didn’t knock down the quarterback getting to him does enough to slow down or even break down an entire play. Take a look at this clip from preseason 2017.
Sure, it may have only been preseason. However, you get the idea of what sort of havoc Clark brought last season. Plays like this are enough to mess up the quarterbacks vision/pocket and allow the secondary to have a chance of making a play.
Now the idea is that more of the same is to come in 2018. After a successful 2017 and a full offseason to prepare for this season, Clark should be in better shape and have a much higher grasp on the NFL. Not that he didn’t last season. However, two years of experience will do greater justice than one.
At such a young age, Clark is already a fine run stopper thanks to his athletic build and strength. And as we saw last season his pass rushing is starting to come to form. As he enters his third professional season and set to turn 23 in it, Clark is just getting his young career started. Although not much has been said about Clark and his play during his first two seasons look for this season to change that.