To continue our positional breakdown of the Green Bay Packers, we preview the defensive line.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo passed only eight times in the NFC Championship as the 49ers ran wild on the helpless Green Bay Packers defense. The 49ers rushed for 285 yards on 42 carries, averaging a whopping 6.8 yards per rush. Raheem Mostert ran for 220 of it. Their rush yards totaled 80 percent of their total yards (354).
The Packers have an big need at defensive line. After not addressing it in free agency or the draft, they will rely on who is currently on the roster.
Clark is the unquestioned leader of the defensive line and one of the best players on the entire team. Clark has been a steady riser since becoming a starter in 2017. He was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2019. He has quietly become one the best defensive lineman behind the likes of Aaron Donald, Fletcher Cox and Chris Jones.
Clark’s rookie contract runs through the end of the 2020 season and will become a free agent unless an extension gets done. GM Brian Gutenkust expressed a desire to get an extension done with Clark and it would serve the Packers well to do so.
Clark is a Swiss army knife for the defense who can cover double teams, stuff the run and rush the passer. It would be a huge blow to the defense if they were to lose Clark after the 2020 season.
Lowry, a full time starter for the first time in 2019, had been a rotational piece the previous two seasons. He is someone who will not wow you with the statistics like that of Clark, but does the dirty work along side Clark and the Smith brothers outside.
Lowry, mainly known as a run defender, has produced only 7 sacks in his career, while not recording one in 2019, after tallying 3 in 2018. His contract expires after the 2020 season. While he will not demand a larger contract, Lowry will have to improve on his 2019 numbers if he wants to continue to be a Packer beyond 2020.
Adams was a high profile coming out of the 2017 draft from Auburn. The Packers selected him in the 3rd round, hoping he would be able to contribute immediately. The Packers have yet to see the production.
Adams brings alot of potential and is still young (24), but has not shown much progression since 2017. He has started only three games in his career, with 1.5 sacks and 33 tackles. Adams has not only underwhelmed on the field, but has had trouble off the field as well.
According to ESPN Adams was arrested in May. He was charged with three misdemeanors, including possession of marijuana. While these may not be substantial charges, he could still face punishment by the league or the Packers.
Another pending free agent after the upcoming season. Adams will have alot to prove to the Packers on and off the field to show he’s worth another shot.
Lancaster was an undrafted rookie out of Northwestern and signed on to the Packers practice squad to begin the 2018 season. Similar to Lowry in stature and play style, Lancaster is a big man in the middle of the line looking to plug holes.
Lancaster has started 15 games over the last two seasons and has shown steady improvement since coming off the practice squad. In 2019, he totaled 1.5 sacks, 30 combined tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovered. He has a good shot to play a bunch this upcoming season as a rotational player for Clark and Lowry. Lancaster provides quality depth alongside Adams and Keke.
Keke might have the best potential out of any of the lineman besides Clark. He was taken in the 5th round out of Texas A&M in the 2019 draft. Keke played in 14 games as a rookie and posted 11 tackles.
Keke started the season behind Lancaster and Adams, but slowly worked up the depth chart as the season progressed. He played in both postseason games recording three total tackles, including a tackle for loss.
Keke has a chance to be an important role player for the defensive after a solid showing at the end of the year that continued into the playoffs. If Keke can make a second-year jump and adjust to daily life in the NFL, he will solve a big problem for the Packers behind Clark.
The Packers defensive line will continue to rely on the dominance of Kenny Clark, but will need the others to step up.
Clark heads the group, but Lowry and company need to progress if this group is to become an asset for the team. Lowry is a solid rotational player, but lacks any outstanding skills to be a starter. Lancater, Adams and Keke are all young players who need to make jumps to relieve Lowry and Clark.