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Film study: What are the New York Giants getting in Kyler Fackrell?

Can he replicate his 10.5-sack 2018 campaign?

NFL: DEC 23 Packers at Jets Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jadeveon Clowney, Yannick Ngakoue, Dante Fowler, and Robert Quinn are all edge players that most New York Giants’ fans were hoping the team would land in the 2020 free agent cycle. The Giants entered the new league year with $76 million dollars in cap space. That was gone in a flash, with Kyler Fackrell being the only edge defender signed.

The former Green Bay Packer was selected in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, out of Utah State. He’s 28 years old and had six sacks in three years 2016, 2017, and 2019, but had 10.5 sacks in 2018, the year Patrick Graham was the linebackers/run game coordinator for the Packers. Fackrell is an outside linebacker and his primary position coach was Scott McCurley, but I’d imagine Graham still spent a lot of time with him. In 2019, the Packers signed Preston and Za’Darius Smith in free agency, pushing Fackrell to a reserve role. In 2018 Fackrell played 622 defensive snaps while in 2019 he played in 427, both in 16 regular season games.

Fackrell signed a one-year, $4.6 million prove it deal with New York. I love the move for both sides. For Fackrell, he comes to a team with a dearth of proven talent at the edge position, For the Giants, they get a familiar pass rusher who has talent at a cheap price, with all the incentive in the world to perform. Here’s Fackrell’s Combine testing:

As referenced before, Fackrell had 10.5 sacks in 2018, so I included all of those sacks in the GIFs below, along with his sack against the 49ers in the 2019 NFC Championship game. Fackrell is No. 51.

As a wide rusher from a 2-point stance, Fackrell displays good explosiveness. He uses that burst, along with a subtle inside jab step to cause the hesitation from Bills’ tackle Jordan Mills (79). Once Mills’ hips go back inside, Fackrell dips and rips through the outside to sack Josh Allen. He wins with speed and bend against the young tackle Connor McDermott (68) in the second clip, showing good bend through the off-balanced contact that McDermott was feebly applying. An underrated part of an edge’s game is the ability to penetrate interior gaps quickly and Fackrell does just that in the B-gap on the third clip. His penetration on the stunt forced the indecision by Allen, which inevitably led to the sack.

Fackrell’s inside spin move is exceptional. An ability to adjust a pass rush plan and have counter moves to base off of the tackles reactions is imperative to success. Fackrell clubs the outside arm of the tackle down, sinks his hips to drop his body weight, and spins inside while the tackle’s momentum is still going up the arc. Fackrell isolated Zach Sterup (74), since the line protection slid left, and he took advantage of a good situation. Fackrell wins with a double swipe and speed up and around the arc in the second clip against Andrew Whitworth (77), who is an elder statesman, but was still one of the top tackles at the time. Fackrell consistently uses his long 33 ¼-inch arms to affect quarterbacks at the top of the arc. His bend isn’t elite, but he has enough to bend through contact, and when he doesn’t corner full around tackles, he uses those arms to disrupt the pocket. In the third clip, Fackrell squares up with Duane Brown (76). Foth players lock out, but Fackrell shifts his body weight to establish the half-man principle; once that’s earned, he dips his inside shoulder through the contact and gets to Russell Wilson.

Fackrell uses his bull-rush above in the beginning of the rep until he can get his big 10 ⅛” hand on the outside shoulder pad of Brown; once that happens, he’s able to use his inside hand to pull the inside shoulder of Brown downward, forcing the tackle off balanced and gaining leverage up the arc, while creating separation. The penetration ability comes to play again vs. the Jets on a Tackle/End stunt where Fackrell is tasked to go back inside. He does a good job dipping the outside shoulder on the guard when entering the pocket, which allowed him to get a hand on Sam Darnold, earning the sack. Third sack in that clip came as an unblocked defender on a play action rollout. Fackrell didn’t bite down and he showed a solid ability to track and locate the ball, while displaying good mental processing.

Fackrell takes advantage of Taylor Decker (68), a solid tackle, by establishing his main move, the long arm, and readjusting himself up the arc; the long arm created separation and allowed Fackrell readjust his pad level, giving him better leverage, and the ability to establish inside hand placement with his inside arm on Decker. With the outside arm, Fackrell clubs Deckers outside arm downward, forcing the tackle off balance, and then Fackrell uses his burst/speed to gain the edge and corner to the quarterback in the pocket. Mitch Trubisky made the second sack easy for Fackrell, but the Packers’ pass rusher had to go back inside, once he was stopped up the arc by Charles Leno Jr. The third clip was in the NFC Championship game against the 49ers; in a 2-point stance over the tackle, Fackrell does a good job pulling the tackle to the ground and then club/swimming the guard while fighting through the running back chip, to flush Jimmy Garoppolo out of the pocket and eventually earn the sack.

Sacks are one statistic we use to quantify success because they’re tangible, but it’s not the only measure to assess a player’s value. I believe knowing how a player acquires sacks is important. Are they consistently winning one on ones? Can they string multiple moves together? Convert speed to power? Are they hustle sacks?

Fackrell earns hustle sacks, but he has also been able to string multiple moves together. One of Fackrell’s go-to moves is the long arm technique. It’s a good move to keep leverage low, while eliminating the accessible surface area of the chest, and putting your lower body in a more dynamic spot to utilize explosiveness in strength, since a player’s center of gravity is low, setting the hips up to uncoil. The long arm is also a great setup type of pass rushing move:

Fackrell attacks Dennis Daley (65) with a long arm technique in the initial parts of the play. He makes contact with his inside arm and uses his outside arm’s hand to lift the tackle’s outside arm up off his own shoulder pad. In doing this, Fackrell gets Daley’s momentum going up the arc and his hips turned upfield. Since Fackrell stayed low, he’s able to generate explosiveness off his upfield leg and explode back inside, while using a hump move to further Daley’s momentum away from the inside. This gives Fackrell the lane he needs to disrupt the pocket and the play. The second clip is against Nate Solder. Fackrell uses that inside arm to maintain the separation up the arc, while waiting for Solder to overset. Once that happens, Fackrell uses that inside hand to club Solder away from the inside, providing an alley for Fackrell to run to the pocket. It’s sort of like the hump move, but a little less dynamic. Fackrell uses a nice snatch and pull of the outside shoulder of Solder in the third clip. Fackrell gets up the arc, stays low, grabs Solder’s chest plate and pulls downward hard, while almost simultaneously bringing his inside shoulder through the outside part of Solder. This is known as a pull and rip move.

Here are a few clips of him excelling while shooting interior gaps, which he does well against the run and pass, due to burst and ability to stay low. Fackrell does a good overall job of getting to a half man relationship, while engaged in a squared up block. High competitive toughness and hustle, along with active hands and solid leverage, help him earn that situation. The last clip here is against the run on the goal line; he quickly sheds the block and nails Christian McCaffrey to stop a touchdown run.

Final thoughts

The long arm technique, double hand swipes, push-pulls, hump moves, speed around the edge are all in Fackrell’s arsenal. He has employed these moves and has won enough reps to open my eyes, despite his lack of production outside of the 2018 season. He displays burst, but isn’t the most bendy or athletic edge player, and he can be used in underneath coverage if need be. He as the ability to set the edge, and does a solid job holding the point of attack, but he’s an adequate overall run defender. His open field tackling isn’t great, despite his wingspan, and he can sometimes allow for the gap to be a bit wide, when he’s the force, edge-setting defender. In my film work I didn’t see him getting blown off the line of scrimmage.

Overall, this is a very low-cost, high-upside signing at a paramount position of need for the Giants. It’s a value, similar to the Markus Golden deal last season. There are traits to like about Fackrell, but he isn’t the No. 1 edge player the Giants need, and that Giants’ fans hope they can find. I’m excited to see if he can replicate his 2018 season here in New York, but having Fackrell, Lorenzo Carter, and Oshane Ximines as your primary EDGE pass rushers is not an ideal situation as of now. Hopefully, by the end of the 2020 season, that will change.