Packers Can't Go Another Offseason Without Addressing IDL

The Green Bay Packers didn't address the IDL position in 2019, and now they still need to find Kenny Clark some help inside as well as added depth to a thin position group. 

The 2019 NFC Championship Game ended with the Green Bay Packers losing 37-20 as they were run off the field by the San Francisco 49ers--literally. Green Bay allowed 285 rushing yards.
 
While that was obviously the run defense's worst performance of the season, defending the run was an issue that plagued this Packers team for much of that season. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that whether it be in free agency or in the draft, Green Bay was going to try to get Kenny Clark some help inside.
 
But then they didn't. Free agency came and went, and so did the draft without any additions to the interior defensive line, except for undrafted rookie Willington Previlon from Rutgers. The Packers were planning to roll with the same unit in 2020 that had been ripped apart by the Niners just months earlier.
 
The overall numbers against the run improved this past season, although the defense did receive a huge boost in that category from the offense, who gave them multiple score leads to work with on a consistent basis--meaning, their opponents ran the ball less. 
 
However, to their credit, they did finish the season on a high note. Green Bay held the Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and Detroit running backs to under four yards per carry. Carolina's Mike Davis averaged 4.2 yards per rush and was held in check, but their most impressive performance came against Derrick Henry, who was held to under 100 yards and under four yards per carry for much of the game.
 
It's not a coincidence that the Packer defense was also playing some of their best football at this time. 
 
Yet, when it was all said and done, even with the strong finish to the season, this is a run defense that ranked in the bottom half of the league in yards per carry given up as well as by Football Outsider's DVOA metric. The truth is, although they were better this past season, Kenny Clark still needs some help inside, and Green Bay can't let another offseason slip by without addressing the position. 
 
Dean Lowry is a player better suited for a reduced role and could actually make a bigger impact with less playing time. We saw promising flashes from Kingsley Keke, but there was still inconsistency and a little bit of unknown moving forward.
 
Tyler Lancaster is a restricted free agent and may not be back. Who knows if they bring back Montravius Adams for camp, but if the Packers do, there is no guarantee he's on the Week 1 roster.
 
That's the other big reason why Green Bay has to address this position at some point this offseason. While finding a contributor should be the goal, they also need bodies. Currently, the interior defensive line group is made up of Clark, Lowry, and Keke, with Previlon and Anthony Rush, signed to futures deals. This is also a prime example of why I don't believe it's a guarantee that the Packers cut Lowry--they don't have that luxury. One injury to Clark and this group is in a world of trouble.
 
Improved play along the interior won't just help against the run, but it's also going to make life easier for Za'Darius Smith and Rashan Gary on the edge. Not to mention that it'll also help out the linebackers as well, freeing them up from blockers. And, of course, taking some of the attention away from Clark will lead to good things. 
 
At this time, we don't exactly know how the salary cap crunch is going to affect free agency, but with the middle class likely getting squeezed into shorter and cheaper deals, perhaps there will be the opportunity for the Packers to sign a veteran. But first, they have to get under the salary cap. 
 
As far as the draft goes, this isn't a great year to have to address the interior defensive line position. In fact, many draft analysts are calling it one of the weakest positions in this year's class. A few early-round names to know are Christian Barmore, Marvin Wilson, Levi Onwuzurike, Tyler Shelvin, and Daviyon Nixon.
 
When we think of needs that the Green Bay Packers have to address this offseason, cornerback and offensive tackle are at the top of the list for most, but interior defensive lineman should be right behind them. Whether it's in free agency or in the draft -- the earlier, the better -- the Packers can't go another offseason without addressing this need. 
 

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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5 points

Comments (49)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
splitpea1's picture

February 26, 2021 at 11:28 am

Plenty of other names should be available in Rounds 2-3, and a couple of them have already been profiled here. We already have enough "bodies"; we need to groom someone with the talent to be an impact player alongside Clark. Gute either wants to fix the problem or he doesn't, and if he does, he needs to select someone by the third round. And no, we do not need to re-sign M. Adams.

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Razer's picture

February 26, 2021 at 01:06 pm

...And no, we do not need to re-sign M. Adams...

Thank you - you saved me some typing

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wildbill's picture

February 26, 2021 at 11:41 am

OL and DL are our biggest needs. You win in the trenches and keeping Rodgers upright is our number one concern. Add DB as our next biggest needs. So many places are crying that WR is such a big need, and you can always use more weapons, but we were the #1 scoring offense in the NFL with the weapons we had. Our loss to Tampa was mainly due to their defensive line winning against our offensive line. You can have a strong case about King’s play but we don’t refuse to run the ball in front of Tampa’s goal line if our offense line was doing well.

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scullyitsme's picture

February 26, 2021 at 12:58 pm

CB, DL, WR. Best available in the draft, mix inline an OL or two. I know we had the number one offense in the league but Aaron Rodgers was mvp, and davante had to put up madden numbers. That works until you meet a good team that can take Davante away and can rush the passer, then it falls apart, like the past couple years in the playoffs. No number two that can make them pay. Mvs and Lazard combined for 61 catches in 19, and 66 catches in 20’. In 20’ they where targeted 112 times. 50% incompletion. I don’t care if it’s Matt Lafleur’s offense or Vince Lombardi’s, that’s awful. Especially when we know our QB was playing out of his mind. I am hopeful that Fuchness can do something as he actually has been a solid number two in the past. Im higher on him then most here, not so much that he’s that great of a player, it’s just that when compared to MVS and Lazard, he is.

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Bear's picture

February 26, 2021 at 03:50 pm

Davante was targeted 149 times averaged 11.95 yards total of 1374 yards.

MVS targeted 63 times and averaged 20.91 yards per catch for a total of 690 yard.

Lazard targeted 46 times and averaged 13.67 yards per catch for a total of 451 yards.

With their low catch rate they would have surpassed Davante in yardage if they were thrown to 149 times. When reviewing film Rodgers locked on Davante even though other receivers were open.

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scullyitsme's picture

February 27, 2021 at 08:51 am

So if they were 1 receiver and got thrown to to more they’d be good. Got it. Thank makes sense

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flackcatcher's picture

February 27, 2021 at 02:43 pm

Oh come on, we all know Rodgers has a bad habit of forcing the ball to his no.1 WR. Tampa played Adams with under and over in the combo and slid a LB down on him in his route tree. Three guys, somebody was open if Rodgers wasn't locking on to Adams so early. So Bear's got a point.

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Packers2020's picture

February 26, 2021 at 07:14 pm

Our biggest needs are DL and ILB

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Coldworld's picture

February 27, 2021 at 12:10 am

Not sure how it isn’t CB.

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Coldworld's picture

February 27, 2021 at 12:10 am

Not sure how it isn’t CB.

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PhantomII's picture

February 26, 2021 at 08:20 pm

DL is and has been a huge need for at least since Daniels went down. We were the #1 scoring offense but without A. Jones and Adams double covered it would get ugly pretty fast. We don't need 1 we need 2 fast WR's. 1-Wide and 1-Slot. The priority is up to Gute. FA shopping list starting DL, #2 CB, #2 WR. That will get us close to last season. Draft CB, DT, ILB, RB, OT, WR no particular order. Tonyan had 10 TD's and is going to take at least a 2nd RD tender to keep him. Pretty sure 2022, Adams, ESB and MVS are all free agents. We need to improve our 1st RD picks at CB 1:5 ratio of getting a good CB. 3rd RD has been a sore spot in the draft also. I agree with your post but we really dropped the ball in the upper draft rounds last year.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 27, 2021 at 05:46 am

Gutedkunst's 2018 draft kept this team out of the SB. Ted's 2017 fiasco goes down in the History books. It's that simple. Gutedkunst has not been strong with the third and fourth round. Let's hope Deguara and Sternberger can show this season. He has to come up with a CB and OT capable of starting. Bhaktiari is a PUP candidate from Day One. Another CB has to be brought in as a free agent. Sullivan was exposed by good QBs. The speed WR needs to be taken by the fourth round and another DT

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Befuddled's picture

February 27, 2021 at 06:30 am

Gutedkunst hasn't been strong in the 4th round? Didn't he trade away every pick in the 4th round pick since becoming GM? I agree, let's hope Deguara and Sternberger do not join the list of failed 3 rd picks.

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13TimeChamps's picture

February 27, 2021 at 10:07 am

Actually he only traded away 4th round picks the last two drafts. In 2018 he drafted the immortal J'Mon Moore in the 4th.

Needless to say, the 4th round has netted us absolutely nothing the last 3 drafts.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 27, 2021 at 02:33 pm

This was the trend in misses, I was trying to present for the discussion group.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 01, 2021 at 09:39 pm

Yes the elephant in the room OL it’s time we had an offensive lline that when near the end zone can have their way against a top D. One to make the running back’s job easier instead of depending entirely on scheme and the RBs ability to bowl their way through a stacked box. One day.

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stockholder's picture

February 26, 2021 at 11:57 am

I think it's the best thing to do this year. Either you stick with Lowrey/KeKE. Or you avoid disaster. Barmore is that guy. So either your content with mediocrity. And wait for Clark to get hurt. Or You make the adjustments now. The Beef is Barmore or Wilson./( Past injury, Previous speculation was top 15, if he came out last year. Gute loves guys who were injured and have a lot to prove.)/ Next Lowrey/Back-ups. Right now without testing. Nixon, Basham, and Twyman would be better then what is next to Clark. And can fit the packers draft board. Every position can be fixed but the DL. And we just don't have the money to change the DL.

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PhantomII's picture

February 26, 2021 at 01:47 pm

I think this is a great year to use 2021 1st RD and 2022 1st RD picks. All in. Rework CAP. Rework/ Extend Rodgers and Adams. FA +DL, FA #2 +WR, FA +CB.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 27, 2021 at 02:34 pm

Absolutely.

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Since'61's picture

February 26, 2021 at 12:15 pm

DL is a priority. However, it’s unlikely that a rookie will be able to make a significant contribution during their rookie season. It took at least 2 seasons before Clark became a solid player and he had Daniels to help him learn the ropes.

It would be a good move if we can sign a reasonably priced FA who can bolster the DL while a rookie evolves into their role. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Coldworld's picture

February 26, 2021 at 12:43 pm

If we are talking with a view to being a run stopper first and to complement Clark, it’s not unknown to get more as a rookie. That said, I’d be open to low cost vets like Winn too.

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splitpea1's picture

February 26, 2021 at 03:01 pm

Like Tuipulotu for instance. Take the position seriously instead staving off a long-term solution with anonymous "bodies" year after year. Give Barry some better talent to work with on that line. Not a knock on Winn, but it would be nice to have someone that was 10 years younger.

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Coldworld's picture

February 27, 2021 at 12:13 am

It would, but I’d rather have a mix while the younger players develop

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stockholder's picture

February 27, 2021 at 07:00 am

A. Donald? Clark had to get his Pad level right. Donald didn't.

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Coldworld's picture

February 26, 2021 at 12:35 pm

In one way, perhaps they already have, by getting rid of Pettine, if the new DC will use personnel who are true DL and not named Clark or Lowry more often. Might put more emphasis on investing in them if they play more than 5-10 snaps.

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PhantomII's picture

February 26, 2021 at 01:58 pm

Yea, right personnel at the right time and actually make an adjustment on the fly.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 26, 2021 at 12:38 pm

Tufele, Basham, Shelvin, McNeil, Owunzurike.....all probable Day Two selections, and they’d all help the defensive line.

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PhantomII's picture

February 26, 2021 at 01:51 pm

Owunzurike day 1.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 26, 2021 at 04:49 pm

Not so sure, Phantom.

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Razer's picture

February 26, 2021 at 01:13 pm

For the last 10 years we have not invested in the D-line or ILB. And, we have thrown away a ton of draft capital on CBs and Safeties without much to show. The Packers do not practice my values when it comes to these two positions. If our front 6 or 7 could put the kind of pressure that a TB or SF generate we would not need 4 Darrell Revis's in the secondary. Make the QB throw quickly and your whole secondary gets way better.

I hope that Gutekunst gets 2 studs for the defense and uses the league cap cuts to fill in the rest. Unfortunately, that means not JJ Watt for this team

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scullyitsme's picture

February 26, 2021 at 01:26 pm

We would all love to have a Tampa front or a 49er front. But they got it by sucking for years, we don’t have that luxury. JJ Watt might be the way we have to go. I’d rather do it your way, just doesn’t seem feasible.

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stockholder's picture

February 26, 2021 at 01:45 pm

People have forgotten 2018. When Clark was hurt.

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PhantomII's picture

February 26, 2021 at 02:05 pm

Clark was also hurt 8-10 games this season and played pretty mediocre. I want to see what he can do if someone helps out on the DL next to him. Watt, Clark, Gary and Z. The secondary is much better already. Let's go get a couple Super Bowls. WATT/ CLARK/GARY/Z . Z and Gary 12-14 sacks. WATT 10-12 CLARK 8-10. It would be a scary front. I like it.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

February 26, 2021 at 03:29 pm

Razer,
Amazingly well said!!!

When have we ever had a DL put as much pressure on the QB as Tampa did to us both games this past year? As far as I recall....never! Not talking about OLB's applying pressure.

I'd like an OT in Rd 1 and an IDL in Rd 2 if the value is there. Then I'd like to see either an ILB or WR (slot) at Rd 3. And can't we for once have a good KO and Punt Returner that strikes fear?

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 27, 2021 at 06:20 am

It helps to have three All-Pros in the front end to start with.

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Johnblood27's picture

February 27, 2021 at 05:18 pm

2014

Cullen Jenkins and Corey Williams

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flackcatcher's picture

February 26, 2021 at 04:25 pm

Passing league. That's not going to change. Downside is teams need more DB because of more contract in the box. It's a vicious cycle that's not likely to change any time soon.

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Packers0808's picture

February 26, 2021 at 03:30 pm

Only thing I have to say is M Adams would be wasted spot on the roster this coming season!

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MarkinMadison's picture

February 26, 2021 at 03:43 pm

Paul: "They can't."

Gute: "Hold my beer."

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CoachDino's picture

February 26, 2021 at 05:53 pm

DL is not the reason they didn't go to the SB. CB (both Slot and outside) then OL (Bak injury) Yes Bak will be back at some point but Turner isn't the answer, CL is gone and the rumor is Elton to OT. Add to that Bak out and diminished for sometime in 2021. IMO Patrick, Runyan and whomever are not the answers. So OL and CB are priorities.

The DL stopped the run, they are not the issue. KC is supposed to take on the double teams and when he was healthy and did the line was fine. Keke is coming back and when healthy was an upgrade.

All that said I too would love to see a 3 down run and pass rush defender DL. Barmore is most likely gone and is by far the best guy available in the draft. To me, the next guy is Alim McNeill, unlike the rest mentioned he can take on Double teams and be a big time pocket pusher with some pass rush moves being developed. The rest are gap shooters (not a 3-4 scheme - DL takes on OT to free up ILB) or like Tyler a run stuffer only.

Packers need to generate more of a pass rush from the 3 down lineman. Lowery and lancaster were absolutely terrible at that.

So IMO DL is an area of improvement but until the CB and OL are resolved it's not the priority. Hopefully they take the BPA if much better than the need player. Heck I'd take a WR or Edge if it's by far the BPA.

Take away - The Dline is not the big issue when it came to run defense. Gap discipline (ZZZZZ!!!, Preston, injured KC) and swarming to the ball. How else did it do an 180 w/o new personnel.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 27, 2021 at 06:22 am

CBs and OT are the priority, no doubt.

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egbertsouse's picture

February 27, 2021 at 06:55 am

A few months ago all I was hearing was how Snacks Harrison was going to be the savior of the run defense. Now he is not on anyone’s radar. Of course, all that talk was before he won the 2020 Muhammad Wilkerson I Got Nothing Left in the Tank Award.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 27, 2021 at 02:41 pm

In addition, none of the D lineman mentioned as substitutes for the Love pick amounted to squat during the 2020 season.As for CBs, Dantzler showed more than Gadney for the queens, though Gadney at least had three more picks than King's goose egg. Read'em and weep.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 27, 2021 at 11:24 am

I am not a draftnik. What I've read is that it isn't a good draft for defensive linemen. There are 2 or 3 middle first or late first guys and a few in the second. Maybe the draft cooperates with GB's board, but it sounds like another year of trying to draft against the strength of the draft.

Scouts write that Nixon is a prototypical 3T in a 4-3 but lacks versatility and that Barmore ideally would be in a 4-3 but can play in a 3-4 (and also needs to develop but his physical attributes are first-round worthy).

Of course, the draft is in April. GB will have to make some important decisions in March on Lowry and prime FAs like Watt and Tomlinson. It seems possible that more quality free agents will still be available in May and June this year, though how that all works out remains to be seen.

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stockholder's picture

February 27, 2021 at 11:57 am

The DL are better then Normal. Notice I said Normal. Barmore is the only guy I would draft. Yet, I believe we can get somebody in the 2nd round. ( that will still be better then Lowrey and KeKe. ) Later No. DE Yes. As for CB. When people look at the Time King was Hurt. Is CB that choice again? This is a deep group, Separation is only test results. //Biggest Bust AREA too.// WR. There are 6 Wrs that could start. After that its Development. /// OT- There are 4- That could start. Alabama players will go quickly.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 27, 2021 at 02:43 pm

No rule saying Barry will run exclusive 3/4 looks. He has to be multiple and keep the QBs guessing.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 27, 2021 at 03:03 pm

Glad you can read his mind. His record shows none of that at Detroit and Washington. He fouls up this defense, chances are both him and MLF are gone by midseason. No pressure. NO pressure at all....

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flackcatcher's picture

February 27, 2021 at 03:12 pm

The DIC is strong within them TGR... :-)

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Tundraboy's picture

March 01, 2021 at 09:34 pm

If they don’t they are not serious about having a great defense . Same with CB.

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