The sophomore standout, Kenny Clark, demonstrated why he belongs in the NFL through his 2017 campaign. Clark stood out as one of the bright spots in an otherwise dull Green Bay Packer defense as he recorded 55 combined tackles, 4.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. These numbers placed him at sixth in tackles, third in sacks, and first in forced fumbles for the Packers. The numbers Clark provided are a major step up from his rookie year where he charted less than half of his 2017 tackle numbers and failed to record a sack throughout the season. These numbers allowed for the “bust” description to seem adequate for the first-rounder.
Clark’s 2017 season started out slow with two single tackle games against the Seattle Seahawks and the Atlanta Falcons respectively. During week three, a switch flipped and Kenny Clark 2.0 activated. Clark totaled a career-high five tackles against the Cincinnati Bengals and continued rolling from there all year long. It took him a while to record a sack, but his play exploded after week 13 with a six tackle, 1.5 sack performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers followed by a 7 tackle, 2 sack game against the Minnesota Vikings in week 16.
When stats are totaled up among defensive tackles, Clark tied for ninth in sacks and pulled in at fifth in tackles and second in forced fumbles. Statistically speaking, his numbers were better than his Pro-Bowl counterpart, Mike Daniels, other than his sack number which was 0.5 away. The difference here is Daniels’ track record. Daniels often commanded extra attention from offensive linemen due to his dominance over the past years. Clark may draw more looks from offensive coordinators as they gameplan against the Packers and if this proves to be true, watch out. Both of these guys could be a force to reckon with as long as the team has a solid offseason to build around them.
Get excited about Kenny Clark. He is only 22 years old heading into his third season. Though defensive tackle is not typically viewed as a sexy position by the average fan, a guy who can plug gaps and get to the quarterback is highly sought after by any team. With Mike Pettine providing a new voice for the defense, a brand new offseason with hot commodities available, and fresh new faces around with the upcoming draft, Kenny Clark could be giving offensive coordinators nightmares all 2018.