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NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Utah State ED/LB Kyler Fackrell

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Kyler Fackrell (#9) may be the best value pick for the Patriots in the entire LB class.
Kyler Fackrell (#9) may be the best value pick for the Patriots in the entire LB class.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

If the Patriots are looking for a linebacker in the draft, the best fit for the Patriots is Ohio State LB Joshua Perry. Given the low probability that Perry will remain on the board by the time the Patriots, there are other options that could work out for them. One such option is Utah State OLB Kyler Fackrell. Fackrell brings a very strong Height-Weight-Speed combination and has plenty of upside for the team if Plan A does not go well.

At 6'5" 244, Fackrell ran a 4.72 40 with a 1.64 split, combining that with a 34.5" vertical and 10'1" broad jump. Fackrell played primarily the weak-side edge for Utah State in the 3-4 and 2-4-5 nickel. His combine numbers do mix with the tape, where his athleticism shows up in both rushing the passer and dropping into coverage. In the first year, he could immediately compete for the 3rd LB role and be primarily a Special Teams contributor, where his athleticism should be an asset. Playing a 3-4 OLB role, the transition to a strong-side LB isn't as tough as it would be for a hand in the dirt rusher.

The Patriots don't play a base 3-4 anymore, but when it comes to evaluating prospects and projecting them to the next level you look for traits. Fackrell has solid length, good burst off the ball, and the blue-collar attitude that could endear him to the Patriots coaching staff. For an edge guy he operates very well in space and has very good instincts in coverage. The Patriots have two star LBs and are hoping to retain both over the long haul, but Fackrell could give them quality depth there since the Patriots only used 3 or more LBs on 13.2% of the snaps. I believe that was a function of personnel because the Patriots used a 3rd safety to play a quasi-LB role. If the defense has a guy with Fackrell's skill set, you will see more frequent 3 LB personnel groupings.

After the combine, I would have to believe that Fackrell is a Day 2 pick now with a legitimate shot to go in the 2nd round now. I had him mocked to New England in the 4th round on my Mock Draft from Tuesday, but I also have him placed on my 3rd round board as a high 3rd round pick. I would not be surprised if he was in the conversation for the Patriots top pick, which is at 60th overall. While he's not the athletic superfreak that Jamie Collins is, Fackrell offers a very similar skill set in my opinion. This guy is going to be very good.