Packers first round draft pick Kenny Clark (97) runs a drill
during NFL football rookie camp in the Hutson Center Friday, May
6, 2016 in Green Bay, Wis.
GREEN BAY — Packers first-round draft
pick Kenny Clark will have more homework to do as he finishes up
classes at UCLA.
The defensive tackle won't be able to
start his new career full-time in Green Bay until classes back in Los
Angeles finish up next month. He was just starting to read up on the
playbook, too, during the team's two-day rookie orientation camp last
"I think probably the playbook and
getting the playbook down and just trying to learn things on the
fly," Clark said about the toughest part of the rookie learning
Not that Clark minds going back to
school, either. His goal is to graduate, which the junior estimated
will take another year, at least, to accomplish.
Professionally, the goal is to help
fill the gap in the middle of the left by the departure of run-stuffer
B.J. Raji. The veteran said earlier in the offseason that he was
taking a one-year "hiatus" from the game.
So there's a huge opportunity for the
6-foot-3, 314-pound Clark to make an impact this fall at Lambeau
Field. Since Clark cannot transition full-time into the offseason
program, he'll focus on working out and studying the playbook from
"I wish I could stay here ... I
wish I could stay here throughout the whole process, but I think that
will probably be one of the more difficult parts — that I won't be
here with the team," Clark said.
In UCLA's academic calendar, the
current spring quarter doesn't end until June 10. Packers offseason
minicamp begins on June 14.
"You obviously don't have the
reps. There's definitely a transition period," coach Mike
McCarthy said about whether Clark and other rookies on similar
academic calendars might fall behind schedule.
"It's never the same for one
player, so that transition period will go into the summer and
obviously we'll make sure they're ready for training camp,"
Working in Clark's favor are the
glowing reports from his college coaches and Packers brass about the
player's maturity. It is impressive given that Clark is one of the
youngest players on the roster at age 20.
Clark was a team captain as a junior at
UCLA, where he finished his career having started 29 straight games.
Last season, Clark had 75 tackles, including 11 for losses, along with
six sacks and five pass breakups.
"The way he goes about his life is
consistent. The effort is the same all the time. You're not going to
see a drop-off in practice," UCLA defensive coordinator Tom
Bradley said recently in a phone interview. "He brings a lunch
pail with him."
Another factor that could aid Clark's
transition is how he was used in a UCLA system that has some
similarities to the three down-linemen scheme that defensive
coordinator Dom Capers uses in Green Bay, Bruins defensive line coach
Angus McClure said.
While playing nose guard, Clark was
"constantly double-teamed," McClure said. With an emphasis
on stopping the run, the coaching staff focused on improving Clark's
footwork and hand placement.
At Lambeau last week, Clark said there
were a few tweaks that he had to adjust to from his new coaches.
"Just getting the fundamentals
down, and just getting used to how they want to play defense. You know
what I'm saying? Just keep learning the fundamentals, and just
learning what coach wants me to do," Clark said.
The next test in Green Bay for the
rookie comes in June.