The Most Interesting Thing About Kyler Fackrell? His Name
Kyler Fackrell has made a career out of being uninteresting. It’s working pretty well so far.
His career arc to date reads like a sportswriter’s thesaurus of cliches: he’s a “blue collar player” who’s “not a proud person” and an “all around really good guy at his core;” he plays with “effort, want to, desire;” he’s a father who matured early due to the needs of parenting; he struggled through the adversity of a serious knee injury; he even took time before his final game to describe his career as “a great opportunity and a great honor.”
He even took time after high school to work an objectively boring job, painting high end houses while he tried to decide what to do with his life.
Kyler Fackrell is, in a word, boring. And that’s just fine.
Let’s not mistake boredom for incompetence. Sure, Fackrell’s life story may lull you to sleep, but he’s been turning heads on athletic fields of all types for a long time already.
In high school Fackrell was a star football, basketball, and volleyball player, earning all-region recognition in all three sports. On the football field alone, Fackrell spent time at quarterback, wide receiver, safety, and linebacker, and also returned kicks and punts.
After a redshirt season in 2011, Fackrell contributed immediately. He finished his redshirt freshman season with 28 solo tackles, three sacks, and three interceptions.
His next season was even better, bumping his sack total to five and returning an interception 99 yards for a touchdown. He also lined up a tight end and caught one pass for four yards and a score, becoming the first Utah State player in a generation to score on offense and defense in the same season.
The first game of 2013 brought Fackrell’s aforementioned knee injury, sidelining him for the season. He bounced back with a terrific senior year, though, putting up a identical stat line nearly identical to his last full pre-injury season.
Moving to the NFL
Fackrell tested well at the NFL combine and drew high profile attention from several teams. The Indianapolis Colts were particularly interested, putting Fackrell through his paces as an edge rusher at his pro day. The New York Jets were also said to be “enamored” with the outside linebacker.
Ultimately, of course, it was the Packers who came calling, selecting Fackrell in the third round, 88th overall. The Packers immediately cited his build and overall athletic skill as key factors in the pick.
“He’s got [an] ideal body type because he’s long and lean, and so he has that athleticism,” said linebackers coach Winston Moss after the pick.
How Fackrell fits with the Packers
In a 3-4 scheme, pass rushers are always in demand. Fackrell will likely be used as a rotational pass rusher behind Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Julius Peppers.
Fackrell had plenty of opportunities to showcase his pass rushing abilities at Utah State, and he was undeniably productive. However, Fackrell can be justifiably dinged a little bit for not producing against high level competition: of his five sacks as a senior, all came against smaller schools.
That said, Fackrell does possess some intriguing pass rushing attributes and excellent overall athleticism. I watched two games from his senior season, and here’s some of what I learned.
While Fackrell is a great athlete, his height can be a blessing and a curse. In this play against Washington, Fackrell is stood up easily by the left tackle.
That can happen frequently, but just as often, Fackrell can spin off a difficult block, as he does here.
With a 4.72 time in the 40 (just slower than Clay Matthews at 4.67), you could reasonably expect Fackrell to produce a decent speed rush. He does seem to have that in spades.
While he’s not asked to do if often, he’s capable of dropping into coverage if needed. You couldn't call it pretty, but Fackrell gets the job done.
He also has a great overall motor, forcing a fumble in pursuit on this run play.
In summary, he’s not a perfect prospect. He doesn’t show a lot of physical flexibility in the pass rush, and I do wonder about his explosiveness. But the motor is there, the size is there, and if a tackle doesn’t connect on his first punch, Fackrell will be in the background in a hurry.
He’ll certainly have to develop some strength and some countermoves in the pass rush, but he’s already well on his way to a successful pass rushing career.