Round 3: Kyler Fackrell, OLB
Another pick for the future, but one who could make an impact this year too.
Fackrell comes in as a guy who has a lot of what teams tend to like in pass rushers. He has a great frame (6-foot-5) and length for a team to work with. He moves the way a pass rusher should. He is adept with his hands, able to use them to help him employ a secondary move if the opposition stuffs his first option. He also displayed useable coverage abilities, which is undoubtedly a desired skill, one that many pure edge rushers just don’t find themselves capable of handling on a consistent basis.
In terms of production, there is plenty to be excited about. He got eight sacks and 21 tackles for loss in his first two seasons, and while his next year was taken away due to a torn ACL, he returned this past year as a senior for another strong showing (15 tackles for loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries).
That ACL tear I mentioned could be a worry at some point, but in a weird way it actually helps make Fackrell the prospect worth taking that he is. The injury was devastating at the time, but the whole process and venture back from that injury showed off the remarkable determination of Fackrell.
These days we hear about players coming back every year from injuries like this, but it says something that his comeback was able to capture the attentions of evaluators in a positive way; we always see a devastating injury as a knock, but while there is some element of that here, it tended to get discussed in a fortuitous manner just due to his resolve to not let it hold him back.
We see how good he could be even after that injury; Pro Football Focus rated the pass rushing productivity of only two players in this college class higher than his.
His play strength and weight (only 245 pounds) need to be improved upon if he’ll find consistent success in the league, and he doesn’t have the quick burst teams covet, but those issues are either fixable (practically everyone coming out of college needs to add muscle — whether to add onto a frame, or to replace fat that may be there instead) or can be mitigated (scheme can put him in the best position to succeed, and he’ll have help from other sources in the pass rush so teams can’t key in on him).
Had he been a first or second round, he’s a reach; his physical makeup just isn’t what you need from a top pass rusher. As a third rounder though, one joining a team with at least three other rushers who can handle the majority of snaps? He’s a great value.
If things go well, he can become a player like Paul Kruger or maybe Connor Barwin, picking up sacks on the edge in certain situations while he grows into a possible full-time option. In the meantime, primarily letting him work behind Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers (a free agent in 2016), and Nick Perry (also a 2016 free agent) will be a nice way to get the best out of him.
Next: Blake Martinez