GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers added an intriguing, but somewhat raw, player to their linebacker corps Friday.
The team used its third-round pick to select Utah State outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell, who will be expected to help boost the pass rush now that he’s fully recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that wiped out almost his entire junior season in 2014.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Fackrell, who will turn 25 in November, came back strong as a senior to put himself in position to be a second-day pick. His versatility is something teams running a 3-4 defense like, although it could take him a while to grow into an every-down player as he works to gain some much-needed strength.
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He will get a chance to learn from two of the best in the NFL now that he’s teammates with Pro Bowlers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s a huge honor,” Fackrell said. “Those are guys that I’m absolutely looking forward to learning from. They’re both great players and it’s a great team. I’m so excited to be there to learn and contribute everything that I can.”
Fackrell had 82 total tackles last season, which ranked second on the team. He also forced two fumbles and set a single-season school record with 12 quarterback hurries that included a single-game school record six against Colorado State in October.
Fackrell had one of his best games of the season later that month in a showdown against then-No. 21 Boise State in which he had 11 total tackles, two fumble recoveries, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
“He’s kind of an all-around guy,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. “He has the ability to rush the passer. But he has good ability in space. A good athlete. We like him.”
The Butkus Award semifinalist knows he needs to get stronger, which is something he mentioned as one of his goals coming into the NFL. He benched 225 pounds just 16 times at the combine, which was the lowest among outside linebackers. He hopes to put on at least 10 pounds this offseason and in turn be more stout in the run game.
But that can wait one more day. This night was about enjoying getting that phone call informing him he was a member of the Packers. Fackrell was sitting by his wife, Elizabeth, at the time while the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Delaney, was napping.
“There was obviously a lot of excitement,” Fackrell said. “When I felt my phone vibrate, I looked over at my wife… and I was very emotional and we’re both just very excited to be Packers.”
He always believed getting drafted was a possibility even after the knee injury. It wasn’t what he planned, but in a way, he said it was a blessing in disguise.
“My wife was actually pregnant when that happened with our daughter and she actually had a pretty rough pregnancy,” he said. “She was sick a lot of the time and I got to spend, once our daughter was born. … just being able to be there for my wife through the pregnancy and support her and being able to spend a lot of time with my daughter was kind of a good thing.”