With the 27th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA. With the retirement of BJ Raji, the Packers needed another nose tackle to slot onto the defensive line next to Mike Daniels. Kenny Clark is a very good choice to do that. Clark only improved as time went on at UCLA. He is very effective against the run and he can be a presence as an interior pass rusher. The Packers could’ve gone for a middle linebacker or a true nose tackle here, but they obviously had Kenny Clark pretty high up their boards.
It was a tough year for the Bruins’ defence, losing key stars on every level to injury early on in the season. That left Clark with a lot on his shoulders to step up, which wasn’t easy with his own partner at DT lost for the year. Despite that meaning more attention on him, Clark did indeed step up and was effective amidst all the focus on him. Clark is fairly average in terms of size, athleticism and versatility which keeps him from being given a first round grade. While very impressive technically against the run, he has some limitations as an inside pass rusher. That said, he did a better job than some gave him credit for, with a handful of nice multi-TFL performances, including three sacks against Washington State. That isn’t easy to do with the Cougars being notorious for their ability to get the ball away quickly in their pass heavy scheme. In addition, he had a couple pass breakups in that game as well, showing his smart play to get his hands up, knowing that his chances of getting to the QB were going to be limited for the most part. His football IQ extends to his overall field and situation awareness that is the foundation of what makes him such a strong run defender. He times his disengagements off of blocks to perfection so often in order to make plays on the ball carrier. His 75 tackles this season speak to that ability. There may be a fairly limited ceiling with Clark, but he is strong, technically sound, smart and dependable, all of which will make him a solid day two pick, and if someone likes him enough could perhaps even see him sneak in to the bottom of round one.