BREAKING: Packers take Utah State LB Kyler Fackrell, 88

Analysis (Kelly Hodgson): It was only a matter of time before the Packers pulled the trigger and chose a linebacker in this draft. While many thought  they would take an inside linebacker in the first round, they waited until the third round and chose outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell from Utah State.

As Julius Peppers is likely in the twilight of his career and Nick Perry will be heading into free agency at the end of the 2016 season, Fackrell appears to be an investment for the inevitable when the Packers could very well be looking at a paucity of OLBs heading into 2017.

At 6’5″, 245 pounds, Fackrell was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award for the nation’s top linebacker. While he sustained a season-ending ACL tear in September 2014, he returned to college ball with a vengeance with 82 tackles (15 for a loss), 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 4 fumble recoveries.

He is tall with long arms and fluid  yet explosive motion with his hips. He uses his height an long limbs to his advantage. He has made a concerted effort to increased his muscle mass and strength.

Fackrell played on special teams as an Aggie and could make an immediate impact in that capacity at the start of the season. He has a strong work ethic and has been recognized as a leader down the line. A diamond in the rough, he may be the epitome of Draft and Develop.

Team Fit (Taylor Hildebrand): Fackrell is not strong at the point of attack but is an excellent athlete. One of the better pass-rushers in the draft, and is also very productive against the run with 253 career tackles. Green Bay should benefit immediately from his coverage experience. Dropped into coverage 192 times in 2015, and graded as the sixth best coverage 3-4 outside linebacker in this class (Pro Football Focus), only one year removed from a major knee injury.

Not a three down linebacker yet, but should find playing time as a 25 year-old rookie by complementing Nick Perry’s run stuffing skillset. Can also slide over to inside linebacker at times, due to his success pass rushing against guards, as well as his ability to help in coverage. Take it for what it’s worth, but Fackrell is the top rated 3-4 outside linebacker in this draft, based on an overall grade of +34.4 on ProFootballFocus.com. His versatility and experience alone could make Fackrell a steal for the Packer defense. If he continues to add strength, this could end up being Green Bay’s best pick in the first two days of the 2016 NFL Draft

NFL Player Comparison (Mike Wendlandt) – Connor Barwin, Philadelphia Eagles: Kyler Fackrell is a long, active pass rusher with a big motor, very similar to Connor Barwin. He has extremely long arms and large hands which allow him to disengage blockers very much like his Eagles counterpart. He is raw for the NFL and needs some work with countering a lineman’s punch but he has the potential to have a similar impact to Barwin in time. As nfl.com states on his profile, “When it comes to the length and athleticism teams will look for off the edge, Fackrell will be one of the poster boys. His field versatility, coverage talent and potential as a pass rusher could make him one of the fastest rising prospect in the draft and a future contender for a Pro bowl nod.” That is almost the exact career path of Barwin.

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Kelly Hodgson is a writer for PackersTalk.com and you can listen to her as a Co-Host of Out of the Pocket. You can also follow Kelly on Twitter at @ceallaigh_k

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