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Film Review: Can Kenny Clark be an All-Pro?

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Film Review: Can Kenny Clark be an All-Pro?

At 22 years of age, Kenny Clark was recently listed as the 69th best player of 2017 at profootballfocus.com. With Clark already being that good, it begs the question: Just how good can Kenny Clark be?! Here's the topic this week on the Friday Film Room:

Rookie called Kenny Clark a “stud”, Marques called him a “beast” and Bill called him “ascending.” If I were to weigh in, I’d say, “all of the above.” For those who followed my “Grading the Pack” series on CHTV throughout the season, or listened to the radio show last week, you’ll know that Kenny Clark was my highest overall rated Packer defender for the entirety of 2017. That’s nothing to overlook considering he’s a 22 year old, second year defensive tackle who saw limited in action in his rookie season.

Clark was one of the few bright spots on defense in 2017, along with probably Blake Martinez and the re-emergence of Damarious Randall. The beautiful thing about Clark is that he was fantastic in all phases. It was hoped/expected that Clark would be able to hold up in the run game early on in his career (you don’t draft 315 pound defensive tackles in the first round without that assumption), but his pass rush ability was also well ahead of schedule.

Clark registered 4.5 sacks in 2017, after not registering a single sack in 2016. He also added 55 tackles, but the bulk of Clark’s work went unnoticed in the stat sheet. Whether it was collapsing pockets, freeing linebackers, or simply holding up at the point of attack, Clark showed everything you want from a Pro-Bowl caliber defensive tackle.

I went on record last week saying that Clark should have made the Pro-Bowl ahead of Daniels. I thought overall on a down by down basis Clark was the more consistent player and impacted the game positively in all facets. While Clark didn’t get the nod, his time will surely come if he continues the torrid pace that he’s on this early in his career.

As I started breaking down the tape, there was a single player that kept coming back to me as a comparison. This player was a six-time Pro Bowler, a five-time All Pro, played in 203 games over his 13 year career and racked up 373 tackles, 63 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, 5 interceptions, and 4 touchdowns.

That player is Kevin Williams, former defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. Here’s a look at the film going back and forth between the two players and you can see for yourself some of the similarities that they have:

Kenny Clark is a 6’3’’ – 314 pound defensive tackle drafted in the 1st round out of UCLA.

Kevin Williams was a 6’5’’ 311 pound defensive tackle drafted in the 1st round out of Oklahoma State.

While Williams was a bit taller, they both possess the unique ability to both hold up in the run game, and be a menace as a pass rusher. To me, this is the type of ceiling that Kenny Clark has. While not exactly the same, you can get a type of the similar athletic profiles that both Williams and Clark had coming out of college (credit @MathBomb):

For those who may not remember, Kevin Williams made up one half of the dominating “Williams Wall” in Minnesota. He and fellow anchor Pat Williams were nearly unmovable on the interior in the run game, and it was really Kevin Williams who provided the majority of the pass rush up the middle.

Similarly, Clark and Daniels were the best thing Green Bay had going on defense in 2017, and I fully expect new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to begin building his defense from the ground up with Clark and Daniels in mind. Good defenses start out by being stout right at the point of attack and allowing their linebackers to roam free. Kenny Clark is not only going to get better himself over the course of the next few years, he’s going to make the players around him better as well.

Let’s go to the film to take a look at some of what Kenny Clark brings to the table:

Quickness/First Step/Athletic Ability

Power

Block Shedding

Leverage/Balance/Agility

Pass Rush

Awareness

Secret Weapon

Clark has the traits and tools to be a consistent Pro Bowl player and with even a little bit more growth can truly grow into that All-Pro caliber defensive tackle. Few defensive linemen these days can have the impact on the game at defensive tackle as both a run stuffer and a pass rusher. Today you usually see the smaller, more agile defensive tackles, or the big, 320+ pound run stuffers. Clark is close to mastering both phases of the game at such a young age. It’s incredible to think that he’s gone up against the likes of Josh Sitton, TJ Lang, Joe Berger, and Kyle Long, these veteran NFC North interior linemen, and come out so successful. It’s almost unfathomable to imagine that when he’s at age 28 and still in his prime, he’ll be an eight year veteran.

So to answer the original question, Clark is an ascending player, a stud, a beast, and any other positive adjective that you want to place on him. The word I’ll use though… scary. Scary because he’s this good at 22 and scary because he’s still getting better.

Listen to last week’s show here: https://soundcloud.com/andy-herman-596646919/2-2-18-friday-film-room-mike-daniels

More on Kenny Clark from Zach: https://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/nt-kenny-clark-22-hopes-to-be-dominating-by-25-26-338

Read last week’s article on Mike Daniels: https://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/is-mike-daniels-overrated-401

My 2017 Grades: https://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/grading-the-pack-regular-season-totals-454

Listen to this Friday’s segment live at 9:50am with Marques, Bill, Rookie, and I here: www.thefan1075.com

 

__________________________

Andy Herman is an avid Packers fan and season ticket holder. He has graduated from National Football Post's and Sports Management Worldwide's NFL Scouting courses and is the owner of the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Find him on Twitter @sconniesports.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (12) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

worztik's picture

Y E S!!!

TheVOR's picture

Oh ya, really like this player, he's talking just a fuzz longer to develop than I had hoped, but I think the dude is going to be a real beast to deal with for the opposition. Really like this young player.. We need 1 more dominant Inside player, and 1 more dominant pass rusher, and this defense will transform into a monster. Still want to see them restructure and extend Mathews and move him inside. While no longer a beast outside pass rusher, he could become an elite ILB IMO..

Minniman's picture

I totally agree on both points:

1) Keep up the interior D line quality and subsequent pressure throughout the match --> Philly just proved that

2) Matthews still has a lot to give the packers - just not at his current price

PS - just looked at 3 round mock on NFL.com, GB 1)Vita Vea 2)Josh Jackson 3) Lorenzo Carter

....... someone's been slamming the wishful thinking catnip!

GLM's picture

Great article, Andrew....if you remember, too, the Packers had their choice of defensive tackles in that draft, and chose Clark....I think they made the right choice.

lebowski's picture

Jesus, we'd better hope so. Don't know of anyone else on that D who could be.

RCPackerFan's picture

Simply put. Clark is a stud!

He made such a huge leap from year 1 to year 2, that I can't wait to see how much he improves in year 3.

When people talk about building blocks for the new Defense, Clark is usually the first guy I like to talk about being one of those biggest building blocks. Pettine is going to love him!

Lphill's picture

Give him some help either another pass rusher or another tackle to compliment him , yes he is young and ascending a draft pick success .

Nick Perry's picture

We don't need no Marshawn Lynch...We have our own BEAST MODE!!!!

Kenny "The Beast" Clark!!

Razer's picture

Who love to see another Kenny Clark type on this D-line. A guy like Vita Vea would make this line hard to handle and pockets would not last long. I just don't know what kind of competition Vea played against. Overall, I want to see us use our D-line to get after the QB. I am not a fan of the eating up blocks or 2 man fronts.

WKUPackFan's picture

Agree with you on Vita Vea. At 6'5", 332lbs, he seems to have serious potential as a run stopper and to collapse the pocket. A DLine of Clark, Daniels, and Vea could be very, very good.

Vea played in the PAC 12. His level of competition is not an issue.

stockholder's picture

Vita Vea is a good pick. Outstanding strength, Quickness, and can collapse the pocket. Comparison is Nagata. Future All-pro by many of scout. Top 20 pick on everyone's board. Problem. Technique. pads ,etc. Packers want a JJ Watt,Reggie White, Cox. But those guys are top 10. Vea would fix the depth problem for sure and more. Doubt they draft him. But Should.

Handsback's picture

Great article Andrew.....it would seem to me that Clark is going to make a major impact, and in doing so it will be against double teams. If Green Bay adds another dline guy that plays stout run defense, then I see another Dline like the Jets were a few years ago. I actually think Mt. Adams has that capability and if his foot is healed, he can be another huge run stopper/pass rusher. That frees up Clark and Daniels to make more plays.

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