At the college level, Kyler Fackrell is known for his versatility as he has excelled as an edge rusher as well as in coverage. At Utah State they called him “The Freak” because of his range and ability to make plays in coverage. Unfortunately, the general tenor surrounding Fackrell’s play has changed as he’s gearing up for the NFL draft, as many are forgetting exactly what he brings to the table.
At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Fackrell has shown exceptional movement skills during his time at Utah State but he’s suddenly being classified as a pass-rush specialists. I spoke to Dolphins linebacker, Zach Vigil who was Fackrell’s teammate at Utah State and he said, “He [Kyler Fackrell] is a good pass rusher, but he can drop back and cover too; he’s an athlete.”
The rush to label Fackrell a part-time player is mystifying especially when considering his film. His versatility has been on full display since 2012 when he collected three interceptions as a freshman. Fackrell was expected to have a breakout season in 2014, but he tore his ACL in the first game of the season and missed his junior campaign.
Fackrell came back strong and has regained the range and explosiveness that earned him Second-Team, All-Mountain West honors as a sophomore. In 2015, he set the school’s season record with 12 quarterback hurries. He had six quarterback hurries against Colorado State. Fackrell went on to earn First-Team, All-Mountain West honors in his final season at Utah State.
In order for a linebacker to stay on the field for all three downs, he must remain effective against the run as well as the pass. Whether he’s in a 3-4 or a 4-3, Fackrell has he versatility necessary to be an every down “Sam” linebacker.
Setting The Edge
Fackrell was tasked with setting the edge throughout his career at Utah State and he repeatedly showed that he’s capable of doing just that. He routinely played with length and strength which enabled his teammates to fill their respective gaps to make plays on the ball-carrier. Fackrell also showed that he can get off of blocks and find the football as well. He is very disciplined as far as reading his keys as he will not go after the quarterback until his passes his run reads. He also possesses the athleticism to chase runs down from the backside.
In Utah State’s 3-4, Fackrell was essentially a pass-rushing defensive end on obvious passing downs. With that said, there were times where Fackrell was asked to drop into his respective zone and make plays on the football. Fackrell did a nice job of dropping back and reading the quarterback’s eyes. During Senior Bowl practices, Fackrell displayed his athleticism as he proved that he is fluid enough to cover running backs and tight ends in space.
Pressuring The Quarterback
Fackrell holds Utah State’s school record for quarterback pressures in a season. His burst and ability to bend the edge are underrated attributes of his game. Throughout the course of a game, he does a very good job of using his speed to get up field. Once the offensive tackle becomes concerned with his speed, they typically overset to account for his speed, which sets up his dip and rip move to the inside. Fackrell needs to develop more moves, but he’s already well adept at getting to the quarterback.