The talk leading up to the draft was Green Bay addressing their holes along the defensive line with their first pick, and they did just that. With the 27th pick in the first round, the Green Bay Packers select defensive tackle Kenny Clark from UCLA.
A third-team All-American last season Clark recorded 73 tackles – 10.5 tackles for a loss- and 5.5 sacks, foregoing his senior year of college to enter the draft. Clark fills an immediate need on the defensive front with B.J. Raji’s sudden retirement and Mike Pennel’s four-game suspension. He is versatile along the line, working as both a 3-4 nose tackle in the base scheme and a potential nose tackle in subpackages, if needed.
Ted Thompson found a player with quick, strong hands that can work down the line shedding blockers and tracking the ball. A former wrestler, Clark has a low base that can stagnate double teams with his low base. Clark is strong against the run and developed his ability to pass rush last season.
The concerns on Clark, though, come from his limited pass rushing ability, mostly using the bull rush technique as his go-to attack. Alongside Mike Daniels, Green Bay should see considerable improvement in his pass rushing abilities and grab a safe pick with lots of value that will produce immediately.
Overall, the draft board could not have fallen any better for Green Bay. Whether they were set on picking Clark or not will be discovered in the near future, but Thompson had the choice of every significant defensive linemen in the draft (Vernon Butler, Andrew Billings, Jarran Reed, A’Shawn Robinson) and top-tier linebackers (Myles Jack and Reggie Ragland) at his disposal. Both positions are of significant need and there was plenty of talent available at the end of the first round.
In all honesty, it was surprising not seeing Ted Thompson move back a few spots to gain another draft pick or two while still nabbing quality defensive players in the beginning of the second round. Thompson thinks he found his guy in Kenny Clark and, from his known success in drafts, it is hard to argue with the man who knows the NFL draft better than anyone.
Green Bay enters Day 2 of the draft with the 57th pick in the second round and the 88th pick in the third round. With plenty of talent along the defensive line still remaining, Green Bay could still snag hefty value at the end of the second round. Trading a 3rd and 4th round for an early second round pick would not be a surprise, either, if Thompson felt strongly enough about a player still on the board.
Still, Thompson nailed another solid pick filling both need and value in one swift motion.
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