We talked about this after the draft and leading up to training camp. Third-round pick Kyler Fackrell was going to have a real hard time getting any playing time as a rookie.
That’s because Fackrell plays outside linebacker, possibly the deepest position on the Green Bay Packers’ roster.
That depth includes:
That list right there is also the current pecking order among the Packers’ outside linebackers.
The only surprise is McCray, a street free agent non-tendered by the Denver Broncos. In the early going, McCray has impressed with his bull rush.
Clearly, stars Matthews and Peppers were going to be ahead of Fackrell on the depth chart. Elliott is an ascending player that just needs playing time. Perry, when he’s healthy, can be a force, as he proved in the playoffs last season. After his first full offseason at the position, Jones was going to be improved at what might actually be his best position.
Considering that, Fackrell was no better than No. 6 in the group. When Perry inevitably gets injured, then maybe he’s No. 5.
Still, that’s not exactly what you draft a guy in the third round for. A third-round pick should be a potential future starter and, at worst, a contributor.
We’re not here to write Fackrell off, although he hasn’t done anything to stand out in training camp thus far.
If Fackrell makes the roster, you’re only going to be seeing him on special teams this year. That is, barring a rash of injuries.
And yes, as a third-round pick, Fackrell is probably guaranteed a roster spot. Of course, if he has any sort of injury whatsoever, the Packers could stash him on injured reserve like they did with underwhelming third-round pick Khyri Thornton in 2014.
The bottom line here is that’s a competitive group. It’s a deep group. It’s a group that has five guys that could likely start somewhere in the league.
And can the Packers keep seven outside linebackers?
It’s conceivable. They kept 11 total linebackers in 2014. So seven outside and four inside, with Matthews giving the Packers that extra insurance for the inside.
That’s not a decision we’d like to have to make, though.
I wonder when the team will start giving McCray snaps at ILB. McCray is good on special teams, can rush the passer if needed as an OLB, and has to be better than Bradford at ILB. McCray has the body type of an ILB, and may have the toughness and instincts also. Being able to play multiple positions and being good on STs can get you a roster spot. Moss and Zook seem to be high on McCray.
Fackrell has to kick ass on as many special teams as possible this year, plain and simple. Only Clay is assured of a spot next year, so I don’t think it was a wasted pick.