Countdown to Camp: Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry anchor defensive line that has reinforcements and new look – Packers.com

packers.com senior writer
“Countdown to Camp” is a daily look at the Packers’ roster, position by position, leading up to the start of training camp. The series continues with the defensive line.
GREEN BAY – The veteran mainstays on the defensive line are Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry, and not since those two were drafted in 2016 have the Packers made as big an investment in the position group in one offseason as they did this spring.
It started with the signing of free agent Jarran Reed, a former second-round draft pick who played his first five seasons in Seattle before moving on to Kansas City last year and now Green Bay. Reed (6-3, 307) has been both productive and durable, with 24½ career sacks and more than 1,500 snaps played over the last two seasons.
Then came the draft, with a first-round pick being spent on Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt plus a seventh-rounder on Miami’s Jonathan Ford. The Packers chose Wyatt at 28th overall, six selections after drafting his defensive mate with the Bulldogs, linebacker Quay Walker.
Wyatt is an athletic specimen, with the size (6-3, 304) to plug holes and the speed (clocking a 4.77-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine) to get after quarterbacks. The Packers are counting on him to be a regular in the rotation right away, allowing defensive coordinator Joe Barry to vary his personnel up front depending on situations and matchups.
The massive Ford (6-5, 338) is more of an early-down run defender whom the Packers are interested to see develop. They drafted a similar player in last year’s fifth round out of Florida, though T.J. Slaton (6-4, 330) possesses more all-around athleticism for a player that size.
Slaton made steady progress as a rookie, earning more playing time and holding his own as the season went on. By the playoffs, he was in the backfield making a tackle for loss against the 49ers.
The following is the fifth installment in a series of photos examining the Packers’ roster position by position. This installment examines the defensive line.
DL Kenny Clark
DL Kenny Clark
DL Kenny Clark
DL Kenny Clark
DL Dean Lowry
DL Dean Lowry
DL Dean Lowry
DL Dean Lowry
DL T.J. Slaton
DL T.J. Slaton
DL T.J. Slaton
DL Jarran Reed
DL Jarran Reed
DL Jack Heflin
DL Jack Heflin
DL Devonte Wyatt
DL Devonte Wyatt
DL Jonathan Ford
DL Jonathan Ford
DL Jonathan Ford
DL Hauati Pututau
DL Hauati Pututau
DL Chris Slayton
DL Chris Slayton
DL Akial Byers
DL Akial Byers
Combine all that with longtime anchors Clark and Lowry, drafted in the first and fourth rounds, respectively, six years ago, and the Packers feel they’re as deep and talented as they’ve been on the defensive line in quite some time.
Clark (6-3, 314) made his second Pro Bowl in 2021, leading the unit with 48 tackles (28 solo) and finishing in the top four on the entire defense in sacks (four), tackles for loss (six) and QB hits (13). Only Hall of Famer Henry Jordan and Dave “Hawg” Hanner were Green Bay defensive tackles to make multiple Pro Bowls prior to Clark.
Meanwhile, Lowry (6-6, 296) is coming off the best of his six NFL seasons, setting career highs in sacks (five) and deflected passes (four) in 2021. Quiet and reliable, Lowry has missed just one game in his career, and that came back in his rookie season.
The rest of the competition for roster and/or practice-squad spots will be waged amongst several young prospects.
Returnee Jack Heflin (6-3, 304) made the team undrafted out of Iowa last year but was a game-day inactive 12 times, appearing in just four games with limited action. Chris Slayton (6-4, 307) was claimed off waivers from San Francisco in May, having spent time on five different practice squads since being drafted in the seventh round by the Giants in 2019.
The Packers also added two undrafted rookies this spring, as Akial Byers (6-3, 308) played in 53 games with 20 starts over five seasons at Missouri, and Hauati Pututau (6-3, 306) started 12 of 57 career games at Utah and posted three of his six collegiate sacks last season.
Countdown to Camp series
QBs: Spotlight on Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love for different reasons
RBs: Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon pack all-around backfield punch
WRs: Three groups compose Packers’ new receiving corps
OL: Packers look for competition to bring out best in deep offensive line
Starting guard spots, right tackle will be up for grabs this summer
Roles and playing time to be sorted out at tight end as well
Packers running backs continue to prove they’re more than just ballcarriers
Examination of Packers’ roster begins with quarterbacks as training camp nears
Packers hoping return game gets a spark from rookie Amari Rodgers
Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage return for third season together on the back end
Top three on the outside is clear, perhaps inside as well
Kingsley Keke’s emergence could allow Joe Barry to get creative with Clark
Unit is stocked with veteran versatility and young prospects
Matt LaFleur has big plans for Robert Tonyan after breakout season
Competition for the third spot features three candidates
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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
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