Kyler Fackrell is the nation’s best under-the-radar pass rusher

Utah State's senior linebacker is commanding attention with a breakout season.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Kyler Fackrell is the nation’s best under-the-radar pass rusher


Every season there are players who step up and surprise everyone by having a breakout season, both in the NFL and in college and, through our wealth of grading and data collection, we are able to get an early snapshot of who is breaking out. One such player is Utah State outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell. At +34.4 he is our highest graded 3-4 OLB, with the highest grade as a pass rusher, against the run, and sixth-highest in coverage just for good measure.

He played just 31 snaps last year before tearing his ACL, but he has bounced back and then some, standing out more and more every game we grade. Obviously people will question the level of competition he is playing against, but he graded at +4.1 and +7.1 against Pac-12 opponents Utah and Washington in weeks two and three. His lowest grade of the year was +3.0 against Fresno State, so even when he’s having a down game he’s still playing well.

Last Friday’s game against Boise State was his highest graded game of the year at +10.3, dominating against the run and as a pass rusher. That including a ridiculous stretch in the final two minutes of the first half where he completely took over the game time and time again. On 1st-and-10 with 1:20 remaining he forced a fumble by wide receiver Chaz Anderson. What followed shortly after was a three play decimation of Boise State offensive lineman Mario Yakoo, beating him for two pressures and a hit in quick succession. That level of disruption is rare, at any level, and it warrants him being discussed along with players like Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa (+37.7), who is the only edge defender with a higher grade so far this year.

His pass rushing productivity rate of 17.3 is one of the best in the nation, with 25 total pressures from 110 pass rushing snaps at outside linebacker. Here’s how that compares to other notable edge defenders this season.

Name College PRP
Joe Schobert Wisconsin 25.8
Carl Nassib Penn State 20.2
Kyler Fackrell Utah State 17.3
Joey Bosa Ohio State 15.9
Shilique Calhoun Michigan State 13.8

Bosa and Calhoun are the most notable names on that list, but both Schobert and Nassib have been getting closer to the credit they deserve more recently. Regardless, that’s some pretty impressive company for Fackrell to be keeping, and gives you an indication of just how good a pass rusher he has been this season.

It’s something to keep an eye on the rest of the year, especially with the Aggies currently leading the West division in the Mountain West conference and on pace for a place in the conference championship game. That should give Fackrell a bigger platform to stand out, and with as disruptive a player as he has been so far this season, he stands out every time he’s on the field.

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

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