No. 88, LSU LB Damone Clark

The Green Bay Packers have to witness first-hand what an impact linebacker can do for a defense. They watch Devin White and Lavonte David combine for 19 tackles and patrol the middle of the field during Tampa Bay’s 31-26 victory in the 2021 NFC Championship Game.

Then this past season De’Vondre Campbell earned All-Pro honors for the Packers after recording 146 tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions. With his play, Campbell may have priced himself out of Green Bay.

If the Packers are unable to re-sign Campbell will they look to sign another veteran on a one-year deal and hope he hits? Or would they spend a premium pick on the position in the 2022 NFL Draft?

If the Packers opt to use a day two selection on a linebacker Damone Clark could be a player they target. The LSU linebacker checks in at No. 88 on the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.

Clark came to LSU as a four-star recruit. In 2019, the Louisiana native recorded 50 tackles, four tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. The 2020 season resulted in him getting benched, but he recorded 63 tackles, four tackles for loss, and one sack.

The light bulb came on for Clark in 2021. He was one of the best linebackers in the country and led the SEC in tackles. Clark finished his breakout season with 135 tackles, 15 tackles for loss 5.5 sacks, one interception, and three pass deflections.

“A much-maligned player a year ago, Damone Clark is probably one of the most improved players in all of the country this season,” Glen West the editor for LSU Sports Illustrated said. “His tackling and most importantly, understanding of the linebacker position increased exponentially as a senior, which led to the breakout season. Make no mistake, at one point in 2020 he was benched for his play but absolutely was in the running for the Butkus Award this past season. That takes extreme dedication and development.”

Clark has rare quickness for the position. He’s able to cover every inch of the field with his quickness.

In 2019 it was Devin White. The following year it was Patrick Queen. Last season it was Jabril Cox. Clark is the next rangy LSU linebacker.

“His greatest strength is his speed,” West said. “Much like Devin White a few seasons ago, Clark is able to chase down just about anybody in the second level. His improved understanding of where to be on the field helped him make plays only he could make. He’s an unbelievable athlete who will only continue to get better through hard work.”

That speed is a big reason why Clark was No. 52 on Bruce Feldman’s annual Freaks list.

“He made our list last year after clocking a 4.50 in the 40 and benching 405 pounds while weighing 245 pounds. He’s down to 241 but has added more than 20 pounds on his power clean to 374 and upped his squat to 605. His body fat is down to 10 percent.”

White clocked a 4.42 40-yard dash. Queen ran a 4.50. There is a good chance that Clark runs somewhere in the 4.45 to 4.50 range. That rare athleticism is why West believes Clark will be an impact three-down linebacker at the next level.

“Freak is a good way to put his athletic ability,” West said. “He has 4.4 speed and is built like a dump truck. Now that he’s hurdled the mental part of the game, there’s no doubt he’ll have success as a three-down linebacker because of his athletic ability.”

As a run defender, Clark possesses great burst to shoot gaps and make plays behind the line of scrimage. He’s a see-ball, get-ball type linebacker. Now that he’s figured out the mental side of the game he’s able to unlock and go to chase down ball carriers.

“He knows how to fill the holes and his improved tackling helped LSU’s defense be one of the best against the run down the stretch of the season,” West said. “Clark had a ton to do with the Tigers improved play down the stretch, like holding Alabama to 30 yards rushing.”

In coverage, Clark has good lateral quickness to stick with running backs in coverage. He has the size (6-3, 240 pounds) and quickness to match up with tight ends and carry them up the seam.

Clark has experience playing on special teams. He had to see behind the likes of White and Queen. With his quickness and tenacity, Clark could be a special teams demon at the next level.

Fit with the Packers

Clark was always a player that possessed the athletic ability. Now that he’s figured out the mental, processing side of the game he’s become an absolute force.

If the Packers let Campbell walk, Clark could step in from day one and become an impact player playing behind Kenny Clark.

With Kenny Clark eating up double teams, Damone Clark’s quickness would cause a lot of headaches for opposing offenses.

“I’d draft Clark probably in the second round, a complete turnaround from where he was a year ago,” West said. “He understands what it takes to have success at the next level and as LSU went through its struggles the last few years, he was one of the more visible public faces around the program. He’s a leader and an impact player for any team that scoops him up.”

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