GREEN BAY, Wis. – Kenny Clark doesn’t know why his peers didn’t vote him to NFL Network’s annual “Top 100 Players” list.
Don’t take my word for it.
“I don’t know,” Clark said during a Zoom call on Monday. “Sometimes, it messes with my mind because I don’t know what (more) I can do or show. I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s clearly, I don’t know if they don’t respect me as much or because I’m inside, they don’t see (me). They don’t know the game, they aren’t watching the film. They don’t see me on tape as much. I’m not making as much splash plays. I don’t know what it is. I gotta get back to work and just keep proving myself again this year. I plan on having another great year and hopefully they see that this year.”
In case you weren’t counting, he said “I don’t know” six times over the course of a 105-word answer.
Clark, who won’t even turn 25 until October, is coming off his first Pro Bowl season. He has emerged as a three-down defender, a rare thing for a 300-pounder.
Among the 63 interior defensive linemen who played at least 200 snaps of run defense, Clark finished seventh in ProFootballFocus.com’s run-stop percentage. That metric measures impact tackles. For instance, a first-and-10 tackle that holds the play to 3 yards would be a run stop; a 4-yard gain would not be a run stop. Clark is more than just a top run-stopper, though. He matched his career high with six sacks last season. Among the 82 defensive linemen who rushed the passer at least 200 times, Clark finished sixth in PFF’s pass-rushing productivity, which measures sacks, hit and hurries per pass-rushing snap. Among interior defenders, his 62 total pressures trailed only Aaron Donald’s 80.
Looking at both of PFF’s metrics, Clark was the only interior defender to finish in the top 16 in each. Clark, of course, was much better than merely the top 16.
And yet, Clark wasn’t included on NFL Network’s list, an exclusion a scout called “a joke.”
Clark, the team’s first-round pick in 2016, will be playing this season under the club’s fifth-year option. A long-term extension would be logical considering Clark’s dominance, age and leadership. However, with declining revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic likely to lead to declining salary caps, an extension perhaps isn’t quite the sure thing it seemed at the end of last season.
“Yeah, you know, with the contract thing, I’ll just let it fill out however it’s going to fill out, man,” Clark said. “I’m just worried about practicing, you know, playing these games, and just being the best me out there. And I’m letting my agent (C.J. LaBoy) and the upstairs, all those guys handle all that stuff and we’ll see where we go from there.”