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Who Is This Year’s Kyler Fackrell?

Who will be this year’s Kyler Fackrell? A year ago, that’s probably not a question you thought you would be asking yourself. Being brutally honest, Fackrell did not look worthy of his third round selection during his first two seasons. Some people even wondered whether or not he should be cut heading into year three. However, seemingly out of nowhere, he came alive last season leading the team with 10.5 sacks and was the breakout player for the Packers in 2018. Fackrell’s emergence was a thing of beauty as he looked the part of an NFL player capable of winning off the edge with multiple pass rush moves. So, as we stand here in June with very little to discuss, I am thinking about what player will have the same type of season Fackrell did. 

For me, it’s not so much about flash as it is about production and consistency. That is why I am going with Oren Burks as Green Bay’s breakout player in 2019. 

Burks had a rough rookie season that started with an injured shoulder sidelining him for the last two preseason games and first two weeks of the regular season. Burks, also a third-round pick, was to be the backup for Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan but after Ryan tore his ACL in training camp a real opportunity presented itself. 

Burks may have only saw action in two preseason games but his presence was noticeable. He recorded 10 tackles and looked the part of the perfect downhill linebacker to compliment Martinez. A converted safety, Burks possessed an intriguing combination of size, speed, and agility that had been seldom over the last few years for the Packers. 

Burks’ injury likely set back his development but it had little to do with what we saw holding him back over the course of the regular season. He couldn’t get off blocks, sometimes he even looked lost on the field, and his angles to the ball were clearly a work in progress.

Burks struggled to crack the rotation despite being one of the best athletes among Green Bay’s inside linebackers. In fact, 66 percent of his snaps came on special teams. Antonio Morrison, whom the team traded for following Ryan’s injury, played in all 16 games starting eight. Morrison was a stout player against the run but his limitations in coverage pushed the Packers to waive him after the season. 

Regardless of his early struggles, Green Bay still has confidence in Burks as he enters his second season. The team did not sign an eventual free agent starter and instead used a seventh-round flier on Ty Summers who crushed his pre-draft testing. Some fans had hoped they would use a significant draft pick to add a playmaking inside linebacker. 

The Packers also did not panic when Josh Jones leaked that he wanted to be traded. The third-year safety has had an up and down first two years and may not be too keen on playing a bulk of his reps in the box so the team has let Raven Greene take his reps during OTAs.

Meanwhile, Burks has been running with the starters and his coaches have offered him high praise for his commitment to getting better over the last few months. 

“He’s done a very good job with trying to be efficient with his feet, efficient with his angles and putting his eyes in the right spot,” said inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti.  “When he does that, he can move around and be a pretty good player.”

Burks is ready to make a statement as he feels more comfortable heading into year two. As he sees more playing time, expect him to play faster and have more of an impact on the defense. Maybe he won’t have the equivalent to a 10-sack season, but a few tackles for loss and a couple of interceptions would add something to this year’s defense. 

Burks has all the tools to be a good player and when everything slows down the game will come to him. Now I’m ready for a breakout year from Burks in his second season. 




Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (70) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bure9620's picture

Equinemious St. Brown, he will have advantageous matchups with his size and speed. He was growing into a nice roll late last year. I think he contributes in the red zone more and I like his ability after the catch. He was so underdrafted, primarily because he did not have QB whom could throw his senior year at ND. The Packers got a steal in the 6th, it would not surprise me to see him become WR 2 later in the year.

(Young player breakout)

Spock's picture

"...growing into a nice roll..." Hopefully, he does a better roll into the end zone than Kumerow, lol. Seriously, I agree that both he and MVS will grow into their roles as targets for QB1 this year and I'm excited to have what looks to be a greatly improved defense to compliment the 2nd year jump of these and other players on offense.

Bearmeat's picture

"Who's going to be this year's Kyler Fackrell?"

So, do you mean, "Who is going to get 10 sacks in 15 QB hits, is due for a big-time stat regression in 2019, and who was never a starting quality player in the first place?

Look, I don't take joy in crapping on Fackrell, but the fact is that the only reason he got as many snaps as he has is that CM3 and Perry were probably close to the worst starting OLB tandem in the league last year, and that was before they both got hurt (again.) Fackrell is a core special teamer and a bottom-of-the-barrel defensive player. He's old for being on his rookie contract and he'll never improve over last year. I would be very disappointed if Burks only ever equaled up to Fackrell's 2018 achievements.

That said, I do think this year is going to be huge for Burks. If he doesn't figure it out, he, like Josh Jones, will find himself replaced by UDFA's until they draft his replacement. Here's hoping Burks is a tackling machine who can match up with TE's and RBs out of the backfield. We'll start finding out in week 1 vs. Cohen. (shudder).

I'd put my eggs in the MVS basket. He's got the tools to completely dominate physically and there were plenty of flashes last year. That, and ARod saying that he looks good and is doing the right things already in year 2? That's exciting!

mamasboy's picture

I can't argue with anything you wrote,Bear.

Savage57's picture

I'd argue with all of it. No one, and I mean no one, 'lucks into' double digit sacks in this league.

I saw a player who got physically stronger and faster, was assignment sure and showed instincts and explosiveness that demonstrated, clear meaningful improvement. When you can man up on Russell Wilson and run him down on the edge, that's not anything but solid play.

Y'all need to open your eyes and let some new information replace all that criticism that's built up in the ol' brain pan.

Bearmeat's picture

An OLB manning up an NFL QB is hardly news. Every coach in the league would tell his QB to slide in that situation. Yes. Fackrell was better last year than he had been. I'd be willing to guess part of that was physical improvement and part was superior coaching.

But, as NP said below, 6 sacks against 2 of the worst OL teams in the league. 4 the other 14 games. 15 QB hits. That's a whole lot of "meh." It's not pathetic like Kyler had been in year 1 and 2, but it's not eye-popping either. He's a C player at best. He's 28. And he'll be out of Green Bay after this year.

As frustrated as I was with our first pick, I am extremely happy that Fackrell is back to being what he should be: The 4th OLB on a team whose main job is special teams.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

That was a tough critique of Fackrell. I don't know what to make of him or what to expect.

Summer_PackerBacker's picture

I don't disagree Bear, though I would like to, for the sake of discussion, point two things out; firstly, he had one year lost to a torn ACL and another to a mission trip, so to me at least his football body is two years younger than his age. Secondly, it took a good long while for the light to come on for Lorenzo Alexander yet there he is contributing for Buffalo in a meaningful way, so I do not believe by any means that he is done developing physically or mentally, and I believe he can become a very valuable rotational piece this year.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I would argue that Fackrell was used in a highly uncreative manner his first 2 seasons. He's got some good physical attributes as a passing down edge defender. Do I think he'll repeat the sacks and pressures numbers from 2018? Definitely not the sacks and probably not the pressures. I think he could have the same pressures per snap though.

Under Pettine I think Fackrell is a good 4th OLB to have. It think Pettine will use him wisely. He's probably not as good as 2019 Fackrell or as bad as 2018 Fackrell.

CAG123's picture

Well those pressure were terrible even if he loses a sack or two put doubles his pressure it will be a good year.

Coldworld's picture

His pressures, or lack of, indicate that he is a role player who primarily is a schemes speed rusher or will drop into coverage. Pettine showed there is a role for him as such. This year, it may be used less due to availability of more permutations, but Fackrell should be a useful piece of the puzzle.

Bearmeat's picture


JakeDickerson's picture

Yet he still managed 10.5 sacks.

Cubbygold's picture

Seriously. If Pettine can get 10.5 sacks out of a bottom-barrel guy like Fackrell... without another starting quality OLB on the field and no help in the secondary... that must mean each of the Smiths are going to have 30 sacks this year. Can't wait.

Nick Perry's picture

I think Frackrell is headed for a big dip in production too BM. For reasons you mentioned and because 6 of his sacks came in 2 games against two of the worst O-Lines in the NFL. That means he created very few pressures/hits and just 4.5 sacks in the other 14 games...MEH...

I don't think he produces nearly those numbers again this season, but I still think he can be somewhat productive. Mostly because of his new teammates who will be taking a bulk of the attention of the opposing O-Line. This Packers team will rack up the numbers and Frackrell will get his share. But most will go to "The Smiths", Gary, Clark, Daniels, and even Keke perhaps. This will be a hell of a TEAM to watch this season.

Coldworld's picture

I would think that a shoulder injury could directly impact his ability to shed blocks? Angles were clearly an issue, as the coaches have highlighted this off season, but as a player learning the position having moved from safety, possibly not surprising. We will see when the pads go on.

The breakout holdover is more likely to be a pass catcher I would think, given that MVS and EQ have talent, a year under their belt and a supposedly more helpful scheme, i’d place them as favorites, but any of the catchers could grab number two target status, as others have pointed out.

In the meantime, a truly dark horse candidate for success on D already on the roster could be James Crawford perhaps?

fastmoving's picture

I think there is a big chance this years Kyler Fackrell is Kyler Fackrell.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Moore is someone that's recieved a ton of Fackrell like criticism. I could see him flourishing in MLF's offensive. I think MVS and ESB have already shown more than Fackrel did prior to 2018 and can't be considered for this year's Kyler Fackrel "award". People assumed Fackrel would be cut similar to the talk surrounding Moore.

Coldworld's picture

Same logic would apply to Josh Jackson. Good point.

Gort's picture

The comparison to Moore was my first thought too.
He appeared to be a complete bust last year.

4thand1's picture

A lot of new pieces to the Packer puzzle. Lots of young guys with promise in year 2. I really like all the big guys up front on both sides of the ball, should help all around on D and Offense. The running game is my breakout, Jones in particular could have 1800+ all purpose yards.

Coach JV's picture

I'm with you on Jones having 1800 APY this year. I think he's that special. I believe he will be the best back we've had since Ahman Green... at the very least, and maybe even a potential superstar like Barry Sanders or Emmit Smith were for their teams.

Coach JV's picture

Why not Kyler Fackrell? Perhaps his 10 sacks last years weren't such an anomaly after all. Maybe he just happens to fit Pettine's scheme better than the other LB's? Maybe he just happens to fit better with Pettine than he did with Dom?

I bet he can do it again... or at least close. With all the attention being on the pass rushers we just acquired in the Smiths, Gary, and Keke. Plus accounting for Kenny and Mike.... I bet Fackrell gets anywhere between 7 and 11 this year.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Yes, but if Smith, Smith, and Gary come as advertised, there is a possibility that he simply does see enough snaps to equal his 2018 regardless of whether he has the ability.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I hope he doesn't see that many snaps. That would probably mean bad things for the Smiths and Gary, and also the Packers Defense.

Coldworld's picture

I think the answer is probably somewhere in between the two. I see him as a different part of the skill mix with his ability to drop back. I do see him getting snaps and having a valid role, I just don’t see him getting as many as last year. He is a complimentary piece and type in the D toolbox.

Cubbygold's picture

Definitely could happen. That was the talk last offseason... That Pettine gets the most out of no-name guys and they have successful careers in his system. Maybe he doesn't get 10.5 sacks this year, because he sees the field less often, but if he grabs 5 sacks in a backup role that's huge

Samson's picture

Thanks, Brandon....It's nice to see a well thought out article about a solid & original idea. --- Real football.
It would be great if Burks or King (or both) jumped a notch or two in season 2019.

Brandon Carwile's picture

Thank you for your kind words

Since '61's picture

I’m staying with Kevin King as my breakout player for 2019. If he can stay healthy him and Alexander can be the best CB tandem in the league.

BTW, is Trubisky better than Fackrell? It’s as legit a question as any other over the last few days. LOL. Thanks, Since ‘61

Tarynfor12's picture

" BTW, is Trubisky better than Fackrell? It’s as legit a question as any other over the last few days. LOL. Thanks, Since ‘61"

Nice zing there Since'61...If I'd of said it there'd be a call for this site to do a Twitter purge like they do with conservatives but it'd only be for one.

This however was an solid article.

4thand1's picture

WTF is a conservative?

fastmoving's picture

Men, this Taryn guy is a funny troll and she is kidding the poor"conservatives" all the time. But at least she is big in faking her "news", what is good for something these days. But of course we all know he is right, Twitter was way too late with the real right ones. Should had ban them by 2016.

buddrow53's picture

I don't care who you are that's FUNNY!!!!!
Good job Since 61

jeremyjjbrown's picture


Coldworld's picture

This off season has me wishing teams ran a developmental league.

flackcatcher's picture

Or that the NFL would catch up to Collage football. (What!)........

Lare's picture

With both the Smiths here its tough to say, but my guess at this season's Fackrell-esque player would be Rashan Gary. Nobody expected much in the way of sacks from Fackrell last season and I don't think anyone is expecting much from Gary this season.

That said, I think the biggest surprise contribution will come from Amos. The defense needs a leader.

NJMagic's picture

lare, i think the Fackrell Award cant go to a high-price FA or top draft pick... they are SUPPOSED to do that (if anything we should have a Justin Harrell Award), anything less would be a bit of disappointment.

My vote would be a for different ILB -> James Crawford looks like he finally "get it." Will be interesting to see if he can crack the line-up behind Martinez.

Handsback's picture

I would go with Josh Jones...He has had time to figure out the scheme and now should be physically ready to go.

IceBowl's picture


You say .... I would go with Josh Jones..."

LOL. Now that is optimistic. I am one of the few, maybe the only one, that thought J Jones will report to the Pack's mandatory minnie camp this week.

I still hope he does.

Handsback's picture

Ice...when it comes to that paycheck, players don't want to lose it under any condition. In fact, nobody does. So I really think he will report and do a little pouting and spouting off at the mouth. When all is said and done, he will be there and wants to make the Packers figure a way to play him.
So yeah I'm an optimist, or a student of human nature.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Getting traded at cutdowns in September isn't ideal for a guy with mental lapses.

IceBowl's picture

Thegreatreynoldo says,

I've, we all, have seen mental lapses from 3rd and 4th year players.

Best for us if we get him in camp, coach up his confidence and technique, and then, if trade is in the cards, at least he gives us some trade value.

His current "quitter" status will not give much value for Guty to make deals.

We are not going to be that great franchise trading 2nd rnd. picks for 6th or 7th rnd. picks. Or worse.

Coldworld's picture

Very true. He must believe he has value beyond what I see.

He is a player whom, for me, the jury was still out over whether he would ever find a position at which in which he would click to an extent that would unlock his physical talents.

My impression is that the best chance would be in a cover backer role: I’m not sure he would stand up physically as a traditional linebacker. Yet the impression I get is that he may not want to play that type of role. If I am right, that attitude only increases the chance that he doesn’t make it.

I just can’t see a team anointing him as a starting linebacker let alone safety. As such, he would appear to represent no more than a physical specimen with a ton of questions, to which are now added more concerning attitude. That’s a low on the totem pole punt proposition for other teams that typically gets back of the roster value. Will a team give up anything, or anything more than a conditional for that?

IceBowl's picture

For the good of the Packers, I hope it is Kiser and or Boyle.

It would be nice to have, at least, a game manager in the huddle for a game or 2, if needed.

Unfortunately, with a new offense, I am not optimistic.

wildbill's picture

I hope we have no chance to see if our backup QBs have gotten better this year. I hope they get zero regular season snaps unless we are blowing someone out. Preseason defenses will be vanilla and most the time playing against 2nd/3rd string defenses so it’s hard to really see real progress. That being said, if you can’t perform well in preseason then you probably will struggle in the real games. It’s time, with our upgrades on offensive line and scheme, to have a healthy Rodgers all year!

IceBowl's picture

Hey wildbill,

Having ARod all year goes without saying. I join you in the optimism.

But, I like a security blanket too.

sam1's picture

Just keep thinking for some reason or other watch Trevor Davis this year! Lots of people really down on him' if he avoids injury look out for him making an impact!

Coldworld's picture

Davis would be a very close Fackrell comparative. There is always a chance. Perhaps the change in philosophy regarding receiver use will help him.

I’m on record as believing that he does not justify his roster spot as a returner alone and one that has not been available even in that limited role. I’ve never seen him wow with pads on. I find it hard to believe that he will this time, but I felt the same about Fackrell, and in the role Pettine carved out for him, he proved me wrong. After last year Fackrell earned the right to be seen as a legitimate piece as a role player.

Perhaps LaFleur can unlock Davis in a similar fashion. If he does, I will be happy to be proven wrong. Nothing helps a team more than a player who comes out of nowhere to become a weapon. Whether it is Davis or Crawford, one of the Browns, Donnerson or whomever, if one does we all should celebrate, and I will. Fingers crossed!

Old School's picture

This years Fackrell?

So, I’m looking for a guy who on his rookie deal, has had good availability, is generally unappreciated and even disrespected by alleged fans, who will get a chance ....because of injuries....for more snaps and bigger numbers but not more respect?

That’ll be Jamal Williams. He’ll lead the team in touches and put about 1300 yards of offense on the board.

arthurl's picture

Also agree it’s King. He can play when healthy, but that has been the issue. If he makes it for entire season what a boost that will be for this defense and his career. Next guy i’d also think is J Mon.

dobber's picture

I roll with a healthy Kevin King, too.

If he gets hurt and misses significant time, I think Josh Jackson will surprise people in his stead.

Lphill's picture

I am not sold on Burks he did look lost on the field , can a shoulder injury cause that? Also King who can’t stay healthy is not my choice I say one of the young receivers steps up.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The good news is there are a lot of plausible candidates. Tony Brown is my choice if I had just one candidate.

Coldworld's picture

Yes, that is well said. They aren’t all going to blossom, most will not make this kind of leap. If we get any surprise contributor on the level of Fackrell last year, I for one won’t care who it is.

Bure9620's picture

Tony Brown has skills, and speed. I was as shocked when he went undrafted as I was Corey Clement went undrafted. I had Brown 5th round in my mocks. His athletic profile did it for me. He is unlike Gunter or other UFA as he has the athleticism. Good call Reynoldo, I can see him jumping T. Williams this year.

stockholder's picture

Tony Brown had an off field issue. Tony Brown before Burks for me.

flackcatcher's picture

And on the field issues last year too. I like Brown, has rare combo of quickness and speed within the 10 yard cover area with good footwork. He is also a flaming head case who temper shows up the worst moment. That's why he was a UDFA.

Coldworld's picture

Let’s hope he matures then. He did seem to as the season went on. Definitely showed promise.

IceBowl's picture

We have a much younger team than I would like. Not that they won't come along, but the numbers are big.

Tundraboy's picture

I think I would have a better chance of predicting the Lotto winner numbers for tomorrow than that.

stockholder's picture

Bet Graham.

Lphill's picture

FYI Tony Brown was a 5 star athlete excelled in track and was considered the number 2 defensive back coming out of high school which he completed early then committed to Alabama, he is young and talented but needs coaching and maturity, he can become something.

PAPackerbacker's picture

I'm thinking it will be a breakout year for Aaron Jones. With the new offensive scheme his skills and talents will finally be utilized, as long as he can remain healthy. He will heat up the field instead of the bench under the new coaching regime.

Rossonero's picture

Burks has the physical traits, but mentally, he needs to catch up -- much like Josh Jones. Let's hope Burks makes the Year 2 leap.

Jones, the on the other hand, I'm less optimistic. I think he should play ILB because he looks lost in the sauce playing safety. It'll be interesting to see if he reports to mandatory minicamp or not.

With Fackrell, this is a big year for him to show he wasn't just a flash-in-the-pan guy who racked up 6 of 10 sacks in 2 games, but rather, can he register more pressures and be consistently disruptive? I have a feeling his sack total will come down, but his pressures will go up, and as long as you're disrupting the QB, then Pettine 'n Co. will be happy.

From regarding Josh Jones:

"For each day that a player skips, his potential fine increases. As reports, missing one day will cost a player $14,775 this year; day two carries double that fine at $29,550, and skipping the third and final day is triple at $44,325. All told, choosing not to show up for the entire week would cost a player a total of $88,650."

"That would be a significant blow for a third-year player like Jones, representing over ten percent of the roughly $850,000 base salary he is set to earn in 2019. With no other bonuses in his contract, Jones would need to take that fine out of any reserved money left over from his previous years’ earnings — about $2.34 million covering his signing bonus and two years of base salary — and earn that back over a few games on the active roster."

"So far, Jones has not sacrificed any money to make his point. OTA practices are entirely voluntary, so a team cannot fine or otherwise take action against a player who chooses not to appear. The Packers, of course, were one of the pioneers of the workout bonus clause in their players’ contracts, which ensures veterans’ appearance at OTAs. However, Jones is playing on a rookie deal, which has no such provision."

"The odds are that Jones will indeed appear this week, given the price tag that comes along with staying home. But if he feels that the differences between him and the Packers are irreconcilable, he may feel it worthwhile to make a $90,000 statement.:

Jack Vainisi's picture

Natrell Jamerson is my man!

Since '59.

Coldworld's picture

I gather they are running Jamerson and Redmond at safety, which I think gives both their best chance of sticking and adding cover capable depth at a relatively shallow position in comparison to CB. I see 3 safety looks as likely to be a regular occurrence. We need cover capable types with ball skills who can tackle behind Amos, Savage and Greene.

IceBowl's picture


You say, ...." From regarding Josh Jones:

"For each day that a player skips, his potential fine increases."

Does this include mandatory mini-camp?
I can't find a read on that.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Yes it does. The bigger money and money that affects the salary cap comes from missing actual training camp in July. At that point forfeitures come into play. A player would have to skip 6 or more practices, but at that point the team has the option to go after a prorated portion of Jones' signing bonus and get a credit towards the cap. Fines for missing part of a mandatory minicamp don't affect the cap.

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