Packers general manager Ted Thompson, left, president Mark
Murphy, center, and head coach Mike McCarthy talk inside the war
room during the 2016 NFL Football draft at Lambeau Field in
Green Bay, Wis., on Thursday, April 28, 2016.
GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers are
counting on UCLA's Kenny Clark to help fill a big void on the
General manager Ted Thompson selected
Clark, a junior, with the 27th overall pick in the NFL draft on
Clark played three years at UCLA,
starting all 13 games in 2015 and making 29 consecutive starts
overall. A team captain, Clark had 75 tackles and six sacks for the
Bruins last season.
There is a huge void in the middle of
the defense with tackle B.J. Raji choosing to take a year off. The
6-foot-3, 310-pound Clark will help plug that hole.
"I feel like I'm very versatile.
I'll do whatever they ask me to do," Clark said in a conference
call from his hometown of San Bernardino, California.
The first three hours of the draft
shook out well for Green Bay, with plenty of front seven options still
available late in the first round. Alabama's Reggie Ragland was there
if the Packers wanted to add an inside linebacker, especially with
Clay Matthews moving back outside.
Two Crimson Tide linemen, Jarran Reed
and A'Shawn Robinson, were still available when the Packers were up.
So was Baylor's Andrew Billings.
In the end, Clark was the choice.
"Just the whole package. He's a
natural athlete, moves really good. Workout sessions were
excellent," Thompson said. "He's got great
"As it starts getting closer, you
say, 'Hey, wouldn't that be nice,'" Thompson said.
It was too early to say how exactly
Clark would be used, Thompson said. He'll join a line anchored by Mike
Daniels. Letroy Guion is back after he re-signed this offseason.
Raji is gone after a solid 2015 season.
Complicating roster decisions this fall will be emerging backup Mike
Pennel's four-game suspension to start the season for violating the
NFL's substance-abuse policy.
In Green Bay, Clark will join a defense
that also includes former UCLA player Datone Jones, whom the Packers
selected in the first round in 2013. Clark said he spoke with Jones
shortly after he got picked. Former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is
also with the Packers as a backup to starter Aaron Rodgers.
"It's a big season ahead of us, be
ready to work," Clark said in relaying the message from Jones.
Clark has a background in wrestling,
which Thompson said can help defensive linemen with hand use, and