Packers 2016 Recap: OLB Kyler Fackrell
- Appeared in 13 games
- 18 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass defended
- Pro Football Focus: 70.0/100
Expectations going into the season: Low
Expectations were: Not Met
Analysis: Fackrell's uneven rookie campaign leaves future in question
Kyler Fackrell has never been one to rush into things. He took a year off between high school and college and painted houses before enrolling at Utah State. And in his rookie season with the Packers, Fackrell eased into a role as a special teams performer and spot-duty outside linebacker.
It was a mixed bag in July and August. Early in training camp, journalists watching camp were down on the third-round pick. Fackrell struggled in one-on-one drills against offensive lineman. He led the Packers in the preseason with 17 tackles and tied for the team lead with Datone Jones and Christian Ringo with 2 sacks.
Almost three years older than the rest of the Packers’ rookie class, there were higher expectations for Fackrell to perform as a result of his advanced age. Through the season, his role was clearly defined as a special teams player with spot duty as an outside linebacker.
Fackrell’s best game of the year came against the Lions at home in Week 3. With Clay Matthews and Datone Jones inactive, the rookie played 37 snaps and recorded his first career sack. Two games later against the New York Giants, a strip sack on quarterback Eli Manning further elevated Fackrell’s profile as an edge rusher.
The lowest point of the season for the Packers also provided the lowest point of Fackrell’s rookie campaign. Green Bay was on its way to losing on Sunday Night Football to the Washington Redskins. With just over two minutes left and the Redskins nursing a 35-24 lead deep in Packers territory, Green Bay lined up with ten men instead of eleven.
Fackrell sprinted in from the sidelines and made it onsides and in position just before the snap. After taking a few steps, the Redskins’ Morgan Moses threw Fackrell to the ground and running back Rob Kelley walked in for the game’s final score.
In mid-December, ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky rated Fackrell as the team’s most disappointing rookie. He cited his lack of production as a pass rusher and said the Packers were probably expecting more from a third-round pick, especially when a hamstring injury kept the rookie from appearing in three games.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Fackrell flashed moments of pass rushing prowess, and performed well on special teams. Heading into his second season, he has the potential to further refine his pass rushing skills and develop into a more consistent defensive performer.