Packers GM Ted Thompson discusses the team's first-round pick, UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark. (April 28, 2016) Jim Matthews | USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
GREEN BAY - Ted Thompson was in an enviable position late Thursday night when the Green Bay Packers were on the clock, staring at what many believed was his entire draft board.
In the end, the Packers GM surprised everyone when he drafted UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark with the 27th overall pick.
Clark is a 6-foot-3, 314-pound junior who had 73 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 6 sacks last season. He provides a significant boost to the Packers' defensive line, which is trying to rebuild after losing B.J. Raji through retirement and Mike Pennel in a four-game suspension to start 2016.
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"He seemed very excited about being a new Packer when I spoke to him on the phone and so we're looking forward to a long relationship," Thompson said.
Clark has positional versatility across the defensive line. He might eventually find a home at 5-tech defensive end, lining up across offensive tackles.
Thompson passed on Clark’s teammate at UCLA, linebacker Myles Jack, along with several other candidates. Alabama defensive end A’Shawn Robinson, defensive tackle Jarran Reed and inside linebacker Reggie Ragland were also available.
"There were different kinds of scenarios that you look at, people called about trade possibilities or trade scenarios," said Thompson, adding that the Packers felt comfortable with what kind of player they would get by staying at No. 27 in the first round.
Asked what elevated Clark over the other defensive linemen who were available, Thompson said: "Just the whole thing. I'm not going to speak about other players, but just the whole package. He's a natural athlete, the workout sessions were excellent ... we felt fortunate he was there."
Clark played nose tackle in UCLA's 3-4 defense and was a team captain. He spent two seasons as a teammate of Packers quarterback Brett Hundley and also is friends with Packers edge rusher Datone Jones, another former Bruins player.
"I'm so excited," Clark said on a conference call. "To go to the Packers, it's a historic franchise, it's a wonderful feeling for me and my family."
As for what kind of game he plays, Clark said: "I describe myself as physical and having a lot of power. I'm one of those big guys and I'm going to stand in there and be stout, and do my job to the best of my abilities. I can do a lot of different things on the field."