It is difficult to imagine an environment more conducive for a young pass-rusher to learn and develop quickly than to be in a room with Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers. Fortunately for Kyler Fackrell, the Green Bay Packers' third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, those will be the veteran teammates that he will get to lean on as he begins his professional football career.
Following rookie minicamp practice this weekend, Fackrell spoke to the media about what he hopes to learn from the team's All-Pros in his position group and how he hopes to progress in his career.
"I have a huge amount of respect for what they do as players and how much sustained success they've been able to have," Fackrell said. "The main thing I want to learn from them is what they do day to day that makes them so great and that has allowed them to be so great for so long."
Fackrell also mentioned Matthews by name when discussing which players he would keep an eye on as he developed his game as a college player: "A lot of times it's Clay Matthews that I've talked about (in interviews with NFL teams), just the effort that he plays with. Obviously he's very talented and gifted but something that stands out about him is the effort."
On the subject of Julius Peppers, Fackrell said that his locker is actually next to that of the 14-year veteran's. "I don't know if I should be intimidated or what," he said, "but I've heard that he's a great teammate so I'm definitely excited to be next to him and to be able to observe and see how he does things."
There is no time for Fackrell to sit in awe of the start of his career, however. He described the transition to the NFL as "immediate", but noted that the Packers' coaches have been presenting the rookies with an appropriate amount of information during the weekend's minicamp: "They haven't installed too much, so it wasn't going too fast for me."
Fackrell should have no limitations on his ability to participate fully in OTAs and minicamp, as he has already graduated from Utah State. However, his age has been brought up as a concern by some teams, as he is one of the older players in the draft at 24 years old. It is easy for many to assume that his age is due to a Mormon mission trip, but he said that he actually did not go on a mission, instead taking a year off after high school to work.
One of the highlights of Fackrell's rookie season should be his first game action at Lambeau Field, however: "Driving up and seeing the field, it was awesome. And every time we drive by it's still like, it's amazing."
That it is, Kyler; that it is. Welcome to Green Bay.