The Buffalo Bills’ defense has been inconsistent throughout the 2015 season as they’ve transitioned to Rex Ryan’s hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme. Some players throughout the front seven that were productive in Mike Pettine and Jim Schwartz’ defensive schemes that were based on 4-3 concepts haven’t been able to replicate that success in their new roles. So, going into the offseason and most notably the 2016 NFL Draft, it’s likely that the team will look to acquire defenders that fit the archetypes for the positions needed for Ryan’s system to thrive. Today, we’ll take a look at Utah State’s Kyler Fackrell.
Kyler Fackrell was generally an unknown commodity to most leading up to the Senior Bowl, but the Utah State edge defender showed that he can play with the best after a productive week in Mobile, Alabama.
Despite missing the 2014 season with an ACL injury, Kyler Fackrell finished his collegiate career with 251 tackles, 36 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 23 hurries, five forced fumbles, four pass breakups and four interceptions—one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Previous Prospect Breakdowns
Standing 6’5” and weighing 245 pounds, Kyler Fackrell has the size and length you look for in a 3-4 edge rusher or a 4-3 strong-side linebacker. Named as a First-Team All-Mountain West Conference player, Fackrell is a complete player that is powerful against the run, shows good burst as a pass rusher and can drop into shallow zone coverage.
Kyler Fackrell Run Defense
Kyler Fackrell played all over the field in Utah State’s 3-4 defense, lining up on either side of the formation as a stand-up edge defender, in the slot, or in a three-point stance as a defensive end. Regardless of position, Fackrell routinely dominated against the run.
Fackrell has a long frame with 32 ¼ “arms and he knows how to use his length to his advantage when playing the run. He has the strength to dominate tight ends at the point of attack and his 10 ¼ “hands help him disengage from blocks.
In the following play, Fackrell takes on the pulling tight end, setting the edge before shedding the block and making the tackle.
Here, Fackrell is at the top of the screen. At the snap, Boise State’s left tackle gets his hands on him, but Fackrell shows impressive play strength and hand technique to get off the block and show off his athleticism by leaping to bring down the running back.
Kyler Fackrell is an impressive athlete with good burst and suddenness that allow him to chase down plays from the backside, as you can see in the following play.
Kyler Fackrell Pass Rush
Kyler Fackrell is an impressive pass rusher that wins in a variety of ways. He has a great first step off the edge and is flexible enough to get low and bend the corner around the tackle, without running himself behind the pocket.
Kyler Fackrell 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/GeHSwPpMM5
— ML_scouting (@ML_Scouting) January 29, 2016
Additionally, he’s strong enough to overwhelm offensive linemen with a bull-rush and knows how to use his length to drive his man off the ball.
He’s a twitchy athlete that has the athleticism to set up tackles with an outside rush before beating them with an inside move.
At the Senior Bowl he uses the same move, making Texas Tech left tackle Le’Raven Clark look silly as he registers a quarterback hit.
Kyler Fackrell Coverage Ability
Regardless of what kind of system Kyler Fackrell is drafted into, he’s going to be asked to occasionally drop into coverage. He’s athletic enough to run the seam with tight ends, but more often than not he’s only going to be a flat defender or a shallow zone defender.
In the following play, he gets exposed in coverage as a weak-side linebacker—a position he likely won’t play at the next level. He drops as a flat defender to cover the receiver running a stop-and-go hitch route. Fackrell quickly closes on him, but the receiver cuts up-field and Fackrell isn’t able to flip his hips quick enough and he’s beat for a touchdown.
Potential Fit with Buffalo Bills
Kyler Fackrell is a really intriguing prospect and reminds me a lot of current Buffalo Bills “SAM” linebacker Manny Lawson, in that they’re both long, twitchy, athletic defenders that can play all three downs. How Fackrell performs in the three-cone and shuttle drills at the combine will give us a better picture of his overall athletic ability, but watching video of him, he was the best player on the field in just about every game he played in.
He has the physical tools to play as an edge rusher or a strong-side linebacker in Rex Ryan’s hybrid scheme, but the fact that he’ll be a 25-year old rookie may give some teams pause when it comes to using an early pick on him.
Overall, Kyler Fackrell is a solid player that has the potential to see immediate playing time as a rotational player and eventually as a three-down contributor.