Since the departure of Mike Daniels following the 2018 season, the Packers defensive line room has been Kenny Clark… and not much else. The highest draft pick the Packers used on a defensive lineman was Montravius Adams at #93 overall. Other than that, it was a collection of day 3 picks and undrafted free agents alongside Clark. And all he has done is continue to wreak havoc, eating up double teams and living in the opponents backfields. He has been a model of consistency in Green Bay, playing at least 70% of snaps in every season after his rookie year.
But in 2022, the Packers are intent at taking the burden off of Clark. They started by signing Jarran Reed, a veteran player who will likely never have the game-changing impact he showed early in his career in Seattle. But he showed flashes last year in Kansas City, especially towards the end of the season. Two of his highest rated games per PFF were in the Chiefs’ two playoff games.
The Packers followed that up with a much bigger move – drafting Devonte Wyatt at the end of the first round. Wyatt instantly becomes one of the most physically talented players in that room. And outside of Clark, he offers more upside as a pass rusher than any other DT in Green Bay in a long time.
These two additions, along with the holdovers from last year, give the Packers legitimate depth along the defensive front. Dean Lowry had his best season as a pro in 2021, setting career highs in sacks, pressures, and TFL. Meanwhile, the Packers also have very high hopes for second year players TJ Slaton. He showed flashes of dominance in limited snaps as a rookie. But consistency will be his key to taking the next step. “I’m expecting him to take a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2,” said Slaton’s position coach Jerry Montgomery earlier this offseason.
Slaton has all the physical tools needed to be a solid nose tackle in the NFL.This would also give Joe Barry more freedom to move Clark around the defensive front to create better matchups. All in all, the Packers should have their deepest group at the defensive line in years. And this all should make life easier for Kenny Clark, who has consistently faced more double teams than almost anyone not named Aaron Donald. As long as he stays healthy he has a chance to produce one of his best seasons yet. But the best thing for the Packers is, they won’t need him to.——————
Jared is a rogue Packers fan from a Steelers family and an overall football junkie, including playing 4 years at Ithaca College. You can follow him on twitter at @JPrugar.