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Will the Packers Fill Kenny Clark’s Wish List in the 2021 Draft?

Many articles have repeated the mantra that the Packers need to go all in for Aaron Rodgers in the 2021 draft. These articles focus on all the effort and talent Rodgers possesses that has been wasted by the organization’s lack of focus providing weapons for Rodgers.

Seemingly forgotten, there is another Packer that has been toiling on Lambeau Field for five years, playing at a level that may be the best at his position in the NFL, without any genuine weapons around him, Kenneth Duane Clark Jr. Due to the lack of dominant interior lineman or linebackers around him, Clark has battled in the trenches against double-team’s and schemes to neutralize his effectiveness.. He has played through injury, because Clark at 70% is better than any other Packer option. His play seems under-appreciated due to poor statistical Packer defenses, but writers who watch tape see his excellence. Imagine a Packer defense with a healthy Clark and another All Pro caliber defensive tackle and linebacker supporting him. The thought is enough to make Packers fans begin to salivate with visions of Reggie White and Fritz Schurmur dancing in their heads.

Drafting a defensive lineman in the 2021 NFL draft is almost a necessity for the Packers. The Packers current depth chart lists Dean Lowry and Kingsley Keke starting on each side of Clark, with Tyler Lancaster and Damon Harrison as the backups. Not a group that strikes fear into NFL offensive coordinators. Lowry and Harrison are free agents and may not be back. Montravious Adams has been an injury plagued disappointment as a 2017 third round pick. Keke has shown the ability to pressure the quarterback occasionally, but is not consistent and needs to improve his run defense.

Defensive Lineman in the 2021 draft are not all 3-4 scheme players. Some fit better as 4-3 defensive ends and therefore will not fit the Packers new scheme. CBS Sports lists one defensive tackle as a top 20 pick. Kwity Paye from Michigan is listed as a top 5 pick, but at 6’4” inches and 270 lbs he is too light to play 3-4 end. He fits better as a 4-3 end. Paye has traits and stats that compare to Rashan Gary. Size and speed (claimed 4.5 40 in HS) but sack numbers that do not match the tools. His missed the Wisconsin game with an injury. The Packers might use him to slide inside on passing downs but he would need to take an OLB position on the Packers roster.

There are a group of 5 players CBS Sports has listed as potential DT picks before the end of the second round.

Christian Barmore Ala. #26
Levi Onwuzurike WA. #30
Jaelan Phillips Miami. #40
Jaylen Twyman Pitt. #43
Darius Stills WV #57

Barmore ended his college career with a bang. The Alabama redshirt defensive tackle was named the Defensive MVP in the championship game against Ohio State. Barmore racked up a sack , five tackles and two tackles for loss in the Tide victory. At 6’5” and 310 pounds he has an NFL ready frame and he is only 21 years old. Barmore is said to have long arms, power and explosive twitch. Good money says he will be long gone before the Packers draft at 29.

Oct 5, 2019; Stanford, CA, USA; Washington Huskies defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike (95) tackles Stanford Cardinal running back Dorian Maddox (28) during the third quarter at Stanford Stadium. Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Onwuzurike is 6’2” and 290 lbs. Some sites have him listed as 6’3”. Onwuzurike opted out of the 2020 college season so his film is limited. His 2019 film displayed a club move reminiscent of Reggie White. While his pass rush moves look good on the highlight tape, he completed his junior season with only two sacks. His sophomore season he had three sacks. He has speed and quickness but pundits are concerned he lacks the strength to stand up to double teams and combo blocks. Onwuzurike went to the Senior Bowl but watched the game in street clothes with an undisclosed injury. Pundits raved about his first day practice, but some, including ESPN’s Todd McShay, thought he only showed flashes and did not dominate as he expected. Some pundits see Onwuzurike as a first round pick. It will be interesting to see where he lands.

Jaelan Phillips is a huge risk/reward pick due to his concussion history. Phillips retired from football while at UCLA after an off the field accident caused his second concussion. His headache symptoms were persistent and ongoing so he left the program. . He sat out two years then played in 2020 for Miami. His size, 6’5”/266) make him more of a 4-3 defensive end. He was a first team All-American and finalist for the Bednarick trophy. He had eight sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception and 3 passes defenses. There is no bigger risk/reward pick than Phillips in this draft.

Jaylen Twyman is a 6’2” DT from Pittsburgh who has put up big numbers. His sophomore season he went for 41 tackles, 12 TFL, and 10.5 sacks. He played well against big time competition, including Penn State. He opted out of the 2020 season. At 6’2” and 290, stopping the run was his weakness. Some pundits are saying Twyman isn’t even the best Pitt D-line prospect, saying DT Patrick Jones, who played in 2020 was more impressive down for down. Twyman is the same size as Ram standout Aaron Donald and photos of him flexing show he has the same size guns. Twyman’s selection will depend on how evaluators factor in the off year.

Oct 3, 2020; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers defensive lineman Darius Stills (56) sacks Baylor Bears quarterback Charlie Brewer (5) during the third quarter at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Darius Stills is listed at #57 by CBS Sports but other pundits see him as a third day draft pick. He is listed as 6’1” and 285 lbs. Lots of good game tape, but his size will likely push him down in the draft. In nine games in 2020 he posted 3.5 sacks, 7.5 TFL and 25 tackles from the nose guard position. He was named the Big 12 lineman of the year. But he did not receive a Senior Bowl invite. His size and college position push him down on draft boards. Defensive tackles listed as third round options by CBS Sports include the following players:

Jay Tufele. USC. #71
Rashad Weaver Pitt. #72
Tyler Shelvin. LSU #78
Marvin Wilson FSU. #79
Adetokunbo Ogundeji. ND. #90
Marlon Tuipulotu. USC. #91

Tufele has the size coaches want on the interior line at 6’3” and 315 lbs. He was a 2-time USC lineman of the year and First Team Pac-12 honoree. He was honored as a redshirt freshman for his dedication to his workout routine. His 2019 numbers included 41 tackles, 5.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks. He sat out the 2020 season.

Weaver is seen more as an edge defender at 6’4” and 265 lbs.

Shelvin is a nose tackle. At 6’3” and 360 plus pounds he does not have the ability to move laterally to be a tackle or 3-4 end. Dominant against the run. Very little pass rush displayed. He does not just rely on his size, Shelvin has hand and technique skill, and he plays hard. If he could get down to the 340 range he could be all world. But that would be giving up a boat load of cheeseburgers.

FSU sophomore noseguard Marvin Wilson (21) sacking the quarterback during the third quarter of FSU’s game against Miami at the Hard Rock Stadium on October 6th 2018.

Wilson is 6’31/2” and listed at 319 lbs. He shows quickness with decent long arms and big hands that he uses to keep blockers at bay. His 2020 stats are from 6 games; 17 tackles, 2 TFL, one sack. While he has ideal size, his lower body does not stack up on running plays and he can be moved off the line of scrimmage, especially when his technique fails. A couple of pundits use the phrase, “Potential Bust”. Never a good sign.

Ogundeji is listed as 6’4 ½” and 260 lbs. His size is more for a 4-3 end or 3-4 edge. He tallied 6 sacks in his final season at ND.

Tuipulotu lists at 6’2” and 305 lbs. He put up good numbers in 2020 and received high praise for his practices at the Senior Bowl. He uses a grab, push-pull to control offensive lineman effectively. His forte is run defense with his pass rush still developing. Pundits are using terms like, “day two steal” to describe his potential.

Four more players are listed by CBS Sports as draft worthy in the fourth round. This shows not only the depth of the position in this draft, it shows how hard it is to assess talent at the position.

Daviyon Nixon, Iowa. #128
Tedarrell Slaton, Florida #131
Alim McNeill, NCST, #135
Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA, #140

Nov 27, 2020; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon (54) and linebacker Seth Benson (44) tackle Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (1) during the first quarter at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Nixon is 6’3” and 305 lbs. He is listed by CBS Sports as the 128th pick in the draft. ESPN’s Mel Kuiper has Nixon as a potential top 5 pick in round one. However, if you look at ESPN’s ranking of the best available draft picks, they list Nixon as the third best DT behind Levi Onwuzurike (pick 25 by ESPN) and Barmore (pick 30 by ESPN) at pick 61. He had a highlight real interception against Penn State and good 2020 stats (8 games: 45 tackles/13.5 TFL/5.5 sacks) He is a JUCO transfer who did not start until 2020- so 8 games. All against Covid diluted competition. He is 22 years old, born in December. He is a local kid from Kenosha. The last time we passed on a local kid, T.J. Watt, we missed a diamond in the rough. Will Nixon also rise to that level? It will be interesting to see where GM’s select him with such a diverse range of projections on him.

McNeill has been listed as a player the Packers have interviewed. McNeill is listed at 6’2” and 315 lbs. Sone see him as a 3-4 nose tackle. He is more of a run stuffer than a pass rusher. PFF sees McNeill as the #2 DT in the draft as a mid second round selection. His 2020 stats show 25 tackles, 4.5 TFL, one sack and one interception. He does show good lateral quickness that can reach the sideline. The man is strong, boasting a 640 lbs. squat and 445 lbs. bench press. His interception was an athletic pick-6.

Slaton is 6’5” and is listed at 358 lbs. He is strictly a nose in a 3-4 front. While Slaton has size and uses leverage well, he can miss plays and lose balance allowing runs through his gap. He is not used much as a pass rusher so his gap integrity on running downs is crucial to his success. He does combat double teams effectively.

Odighizuwa’s brother has already made it into an NFL locker room, playing two years for the Giants. Odighizuwa is 6’2” and 280 lbs. His strengths are quickness and explosiveness. He has 34 1/8 inch arms that he uses effectively. He is said to be able to squat over 700 lbs and bench 420. In 7 games in 2020 he had four sacks, 6 TFL and 30 total tackles. The Packers found a gem in former UCLA’s Krys Barnes, could Odighizuwa be another find? His brother was drafted by the Giants in 2015, also coming out of UCLA. He was a draft bust. IR his rookie year and released after a suspension for violating the NFL substance abuse rules. It will be interesting to see if his brother’s flame out impacts his draft status. They have identical size and athletic measurables.

While there seems to be good depth after the first round for defensive tackle prospects, picking the future all pro from this bunch will be a challenge. There is a local product straight off a detour through Texas that would fit the bill, but his bill might be over the Packer’s budget. Only time will tell…

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Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is a lawyer, victim advocate, writer, and long term Packer fan and Packer history enthusiast.

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22 Comments

  1. PF4L March 1, 2021

    NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Watt is signing a two-year deal worth $31 million, with $23 million guaranteed.
    .
    Does this mean Watt won’t take a hometown discount to join the Packers?
    .
    Shocking

    1. Ferris March 1, 2021

      Watt- ” I want to win a Super….fuck it I’ll take the money”
      Kliff K is a loser and that team is an underachieving dumpster fire. In the NFL in his 2 seasons coach hairspray Kliff is 13-18-1.
      5-10-1 and 8-8. In college he was 35-40. He has 2 winning seasons at Texas Tech in 6 seasons and those “winning” seasons were 8-5 and 7-6. Why TF does he have a job? Fat Mike was 21-11 his first 2 seasons.

      1. KILLER March 2, 2021

        Oooo, there is that Packers fan bitterness. Watt doesn’t want to be a Packer? Even though the Packers can’t pay him? Even though even if he did want to be a Packer he still couldn’t be one due to Packer cap mismanagement? Resent resent resent… bitter bitter bitter….

        Ooo, so bitter…! I know, I’ll attack whatever team Watt signed with! Surely then I will feel better!

        Did it work for you, Ferris?

        1. Ferris March 2, 2021

          Wrong again. I was just commenting that it is all about money. And any player will go to any team that pays no matter what they say about wanting to win. I don’t think he is the player he used to be and don’t think he was ever going to give a WI discount. Going to the Cardinals and that coach is an example of money is king not winning.

    2. Mick March 1, 2021

      We’ve been listening to the so called “free agent acquisition experts” in the media trying to figure out where Watt would “likely” end up for the past 3 weeks or so. Browns, Steelers, Titans, Bills and Packers were the teams he was interested in. Surprise; surprise, the Cards stepped up to the plate with 31 mil. Money talks and BS walks; so they say. As has been the case for some time now, players are more likely to take the money than to accept the hometown discount, or take less money just to have a chance to play with a particular star and having a chance at a ring. It’s not always the case but, It’s more common in todays times. I might be wrong but, I’m willing to believe the Pack wouldn’t have come close to that contract.

      1. PF4L March 2, 2021

        I might be wrong but….i doubt the Packers even tried.
        .
        Don’t get me wrong, nothing at all, wrong with that.
        .
        When i wrote my post above, two thoughts ran through my head reflecting what you and Ferris spoke of.
        .
        “I want to go to a place where i can win a Super Bowl” <— almost always BS
        "Money talks, bullshit walks" <— almost always true.

      2. Ferris March 2, 2021

        I wrote a reply to the basement dweller before I read your comment. Exactly my point. But someone just has to attack all the time. Sad sad existence.

  2. Howard March 2, 2021

    Good article Paul. I think Barmore is gone before the Packers draft and I don’t see the Packers taking any of the other D-linemen in the first round. Interior D-line will need to be addressed in later rounds. :-( .
    .
    I tend to agree more with PFF rankings than CBS. There is not much there in the first round for defensive linemen after Barmore, that you can’t get in a later round.

    1. Mick March 2, 2021

      Considering some mock drafts, even Barmore could drop into the 20 to 32 slot in the 1st round. I agree with Howard that there are quality D-linemen available in later rounds, just not 1st rd. worthy.

  3. PF4L March 2, 2021

    Filed under: WTF is wrong with some people.
    Do stupid things, win stupid prizes.
    .
    El CENTRO, Calif. (AP) — A semitruck on Tuesday crashed into an SUV carrying 25 people on a Southern California highway, killing 13 and leaving others injured, authorities said.

  4. joefan March 2, 2021

    I’m not surprised Watt didn’t sign with the Packers. I wasn’t sure what to make of the rumors. I guess I believed them at first, but wiser people on fan sites like this started to make me doubt. How many players actually take a huge discount? I don’t remember any signing well below their market value just to chase rings. Also, when is the last time or has it ever happened a free agent came to Green Bay to ring chase? If players really wanted to play for veteran minimum the Packers could’ve had tons of guys, but that isn’t reality. Players aren’t going to go through all those workouts and grinding away at their body to make the least amount of money allowed. It’s ridiculous.

    Even Charles Woodson, who had no options left still got a nice contract from the Packers.

  5. Mick March 3, 2021

    Yep, good points Joe! IMO, Woodson was the best FA pick up the Packers have made in the last 15 years. Ryan Pickett and Peppers also come to mind. On the other end of the spectrum; Graham, Kirksey—– not so much.

  6. stiggy March 4, 2021

    Super bowl winning teams usually have dominating middle linebackers, save for teams like the Chiefs. Since the packers don’t want to invest in skill positions and be like the chiefs offensively…they need a sideline to sideline middle linebacker who can actually CONTROL the middle of the field. Unfortunately for the Packers…those usually come in the top 15 of the draft. But GEMS can be found if you are willing to invest a 2nd or 3rd round pick.

  7. PF4L March 4, 2021

    I found an article where the author (tries to) explain how Gute did in fact, go all in.
    .
    Should i have just ignored it and left it alone….yea, right.
    *****************************************************************
    PF4L

    March 04, 2021 at 01:11 pm

    [He was undeniably right to believe that. The 2020 Packers were better on both sides of the ball, and should have represented the NFC in the Super Bowl.] – Tim Backes
    .
    Except for the fact the defense gave up more points in 2020, than 2019. But hey….stick with what sounds good though.
    ************************
    Going all in…what does that mean?
    It means having a short window of opportunity. It means using all resources to put the best possible team on the field.
    Denver went all in building up their defense, it resulted in a Super Bowl win in 2016. With a underperforming QB at his stage in his career.
    The Bucs also did it last season, and won.
    .
    To even get to the SB, what did the Broncos and Bucs do to win, and the Packers didn’t?
    The Broncos and the Bucs didn’t have 2 def, backs give up 3 easy TD’s and 21 points because of terrible coverage.
    I suppose we could debate whether or not Gute should have known a year or two ago that King was more a hinderance, than an asset to winning. But why waste our time on something so evident.
    *************************
    With all due respect Mr. Backes….”Going all in” isn’t defined because you went on a drunken free agent spending spree. They spent 182 in one off season, over 240 million on free agents since Gute was made GM.
    Again…..Going all in?…
    Means using all resources available.
    News Flash: Gute did not do that.
    .
    BTW…How did those free agents do in the NFCCG?…The Smith Brothers were almost invisible. Amos looked like a fool trying to tackle Fournette on his 20 yard TD run in the 2nd quarter. Amos didn’t have a clue to cover Brate on his wide open TD pass he gave up in the 3rd quarter.
    .
    You don’t… sign 2 edge rushers to over 100 million…then draft a project edge rusher to sit on the bench with the 12th pic of the draft….to go all in
    .
    You don’t….draft a QB for the future spending a 1st and a 4th round pick on to sit on the bench for 3 or 4 years….to go all in
    You don’t draft a RB in the 2nd round to sit on the bench when we had no need for a rb at that time….to go all in
    Drafting all bench players with two 1st round picks, and a 2nd round pick, plus giving away a 4th round pick is NOT….going all in.
    It’s drafting…..for the future. There is a difference

    Lets stop with the…
    “should have represented the NFC in the Super Bowl”
    “They lost a game they should have won.”
    “Brian Gutekunst built a team that could, and should, have played in a Super Bowl”
    No…..they should not have won…….because they didn’t
    Should the Packers have gone to the 2014 Super Bowl instead of the Seahawks?
    NO!!….Because they didn’t earn it!
    .
    Let’s leave the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” scenarios and excuses to Bear and Viking fans.

  8. PF4L March 4, 2021

    We have another scholar who thinks the Packers were 8 yards away from going to the Super Bowl.
    I love these guys :)….smh

    ” the Packers came within 8 yards and then a stretched jersey away from winning the game and placing in the Super Bowl.” – Swisch
    .
    A Super Bowl appearance didn’t come within 8 yards Swisch.
    Did you even watch the game? Do you have an understanding how football is scored and what happens if they play to a tie?

    CORRECTION: The Packers came to a 8 yard TD and a 2pt conversion away from tying up the game.

    Stretched jersey: other wise known as a holding penalty. An obvious one where King even “switched” hands to hold the jersey.
    (King giving up 14 easy points apparently wasn’t enough for him.)

    So, if you can score a TD, a 2 pt conversion and stop the Bucs from scoring. Then you still have to win it in over time.
    .
    Sincerely,

    The voice of reason.

  9. Ferris March 4, 2021

    Is a new Punter on the wish list? Talk about a position they can’t get right. Like the Bears with QBs.

  10. Skinny March 4, 2021

    PFF is full of shit if they think the Packers are giving Will Fuller 5 years 87.5 million! 25 mil signing bonus! No chance in hell. That has to be a fake write up. Or is their more sled hill money available then Murphy is letting on? Stay tuned.

    https://www.pff.com/news/nfl-2021-free-agency-ranking-the-nfls-top-50-free-agents

    1. PF4L March 4, 2021

      Agree Skinny….he’s a really good receiver, when he’s able to play.
      .
      Am i paying him 17.5 mill a year? That’s 3 mill more than Adams on average.
      .
      Plus….Adams contract has to be done this year. What are you paying Adams, 20-23 mill/year?
      (Adams has all the leverage) for obvious reasons, right….Gute?
      .
      Suspension, has missed 27 games, never 1,000 yard season, never more than 8 Td’s in a season, and were going to sign him for more money than Adams?
      .
      Not in this lifetime, right …Gute?
      .
      BTW…just curious…is the sled hill still $7.00?
      7 seconds of exhilarating joy.

  11. Mick March 5, 2021

    Will Fuller? 5-years, 87.5 mil with a 25 mil signing bonus? Really? With Adams’ contract up for renewal? Possibly more money for Rodgers? Alexanders’ contract coming up? With less cap money to all teams; let alone the Packers cap situation? Articles like that prove the silly season is alive and well. Get your popcorn ready, this FA season should be a doozy!

  12. PF4L March 7, 2021

    IMO….Thanks should be given to Paul Edwards for writing the last 3 articles. Without his contributions i’m not sure what we’d be reading.

  13. PF4L March 7, 2021

    Just because, it’s not like it’s busy in here…….
    .
    During a rough 2020, hopefully we can see great improvement and people can put the hard times, sickness, death and various degree’s of depression behind them and 2021 brings us some healthy normalcy back to our everyday lives.
    Get your vaccine shots!
    .
    In related….2020 also saw a great number of protest, unrest, riots, arson, looting, deaths country wide. Black Lives Matter was in full press mode protesting against systematic racism across the country. A good cause to be sure, when done lawfully.
    .
    Meanwhile….through the same year of 2020. Milwaukee set new records in the number of shootings and murders among blacks on blacks. But that isn’t the worst news. The worst news is that those same crimes in Milwaukee here in 2021, are on pace to beat the record set in 2020.
    Children’s Hospital treated a record, 97 children for gunshot wounds in 2020. That is just one hospital. It’s unimaginable, Like…wtf?
    .
    Sometimes people have to look in the mirror and show some willingness to help themselves.
    I don’t think i know anyone who wouldn’t help somebody, that is trying to help themselves
    .
    I mean….. maybe don’t preach to us what’s wrong with the world when you don’t have your own house in order.
    Maybe i’m missing something…maybe all the crime in Milwaukee, is caused by people outside of Milwaukee.
    Yes, that must be it.
    Victims.
    .
    You want to protest something? You sure as hell don’t have to look outside your own neighbhorhood.
    Protest that….for a change.

  14. PF4L March 7, 2021

    Here….
    .
    A girl was presumed “missing” in Milwaukee last summer.
    .
    A rumor was spread around the neighborhood of who took her.
    A mob of easily over 100 surrounded the house where the rumor led them. The people who lived in the house tried to flee in a car. But not before being shot at multiple times.
    The mob then began to break in the house, stealing things, vandalizing the house, then setting it on fire before the cops arrived.
    .
    Where was the missing girl?…..at a relatives house.
    .
    The mentality of life in Milwaukee