The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys Potential 2011 Draft Pick: William Rackley, OT, Lehigh

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Jonathan Bales

The majority of the tape I watch comes from recorded games during the college season.  Often, however, I have the opportunity to attend local college games (I am from Philadelphia, for those who didn’t know).  This is one of the reasons I was so high on Akwasi Owusu-Ansah last season (Indiana of Pennsylvania played at a number of local universities).

This past season, I was able to watch local teams Temple, Villanova and Lehigh quite a bit.  You may notice I’m rather high on some of the products from those schools–Muhammad WilkersonJaiquawn Jarrett, Ben Ijalana and William Rackley.  Am I simply biased?  I like to think I’m as objective as possible, but of course I realize some biases are a natural outcome of increased exposure.  However, I’m not automatically high on all local products.  You may recall I wasn’t thrilled with the selection of Penn State’s Sean Lee last season, for example.

My love for the prospects above may be the result of my general appreciation for small-school players.  To be mentioned alongside the blue-chip guys, you know a small-school prospect had to dominate his competition.  With the gap between the elite universities and the second-tier ones shrinking rapidly, I think small-school players can hold a ton of value for NFL clubs (and I think they’re beginning to agree).  By the way, a study of the recent success of small-school players in the NFL might be a cool project. . .let me know if that interests any of you.

Nonetheless, Lehigh offensive tackle William Rackley is a player I know more closely than any other in this draft.  I was actually recruited by Lehigh’s football coach out of high school, but chose to attend a different school nearby.  Thus, I know the program well, giving me a chance to study Rackley quite in-depth.

Unfortunately, the videos of Rackley which are available for me to post are scarce.  I have added a very short “highlight” film below, but for this particular scouting report, you’ll just have to trust me :)

Scouting Report

A pet peeve of mine is when small-school offensive tackles are automatically projected to transition to guard in the NFL.  This has already happened with Villanova’s Ben Ijalana, which is a joke to me.  Ijalana has the size and ability to play tackle in the NFL, and that is where he should stay.

Having said that, there may be some merit to the idea of moving Rackley to guard.  He’s rather short for an offensive tackle (6’3”), and possesses arms of just 33.5 inches–average at best.  If you talk to any scout or NFL GM, you’ll quickly realize the incredible importance they place on arm length among offensive linemen.  They generally consider arms of 35+ inches to be outstanding, and 34+ to be good.

I do think whoever drafts Rackley should at least give him a look at tackle.  He’s quite athletic for a 310-pounder, displaying great knee bend and quick hand movement.  His lateral movement and slide in pass protection are superb.

Rackley’s athleticism allows him to play with tremendous leverage.  He can easily get to the second level in the running game, which is something Dallas is missing right now at right tackle.  It sure would be nice to be able to run a toss or counter to the right side of the field, huh?

Rackley’s mobility is complemented well by his strength.  He has a very thick lower body, and his upper body strength is adequate (29 reps at the Combine).

Rackley’s largest weakness is a lack of explosiveness (he had just a 23.5 inch vertical jump).  You can see this in Rackley’s game, as he doesn’t ever really appear sudden in his movements.  His athleticism comes more in his technique and position than being explosive, i.e. he’s an athlete similar to a guy like Joe Thomas, not Bruce Campbell.

And of course I have to mention Rackley’s competition.  Facing teams like Colgate and Lafayette makes a proper evaluation rather difficult.  Further complicating matters is the fact that Lehigh runs a zone-blocking scheme that isn’t very similar to that in Dallas.  Thus, Rackley will have an adjustment period (which will happen anyway if he moves to guard).

The good new is Rackley’s very intelligent (3.4 GPA), so the cerebral aspect of the transition won’t be an issue.  When you speak to him, you can tell he’s a smart kid who loves football.  That’s important.

It’s worth noting the Cowboys were one of the teams to interview Rackley at the Combine.

Projection

Even if most teams view Rackley as a guard at the next level, I think interest in him will be high.  He had 13 interviews at the Combine alone, and his versatility makes him an attractive fit for a lot of schemes.  He has zone-blocking experience, but I think his transition to an offense like that in Dallas will be made easier by his intelligence and versatile skill set.

Rackley is projected to get selected anywhere from the late-second round to the fourth.  I currently have him rated No. 50 overall on my Big Board–the fourth-rated guard.  Rackley could be an option for Dallas in the third round, but if he’s still available in the fourth, the decision seems like a no-brainer to me.

Other Potential Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011

Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

Cameron Jordan, DT/DE, Cal

Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC

Cameron Heyward, DT/DE, Ohio State

Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

Tyron Smith, OT, USC

Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA

Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor

Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple

Corey Liuget, DT/DE, Illinois

Martez Wilson, ILB/OLB, Illinois

Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon

Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois

Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

Brandon Burton, CB, Utah

Nick Fairley, DT/DE, Auburn

Jaiquawn Jarrett, FS, Temple

Ben Ijalana, OT/OG, Villanova

Drake Nevis, DT/DE, LSU

Dontay Moch, DE/OLB, Nevada

Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona

Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State

Sam Acho, DE/OLB, Texas

JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin

 

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17 Responses to Dallas Cowboys Potential 2011 Draft Pick: William Rackley, OT, Lehigh

  1. craig says:

    about that small school study…

    I did some research on this as an undergrad for a few hours, although not exactly what you are discussing. I looked into if kids, out of high school, should go to smaller schools (or less prestigious) to have a greater chance at going pro. They did in fact have a higher chance (holding the caliber of recruit constant), this is also due to the fact that they likely played more (which turned out to be the main factor).

    But… I would love to see the results of that study also!

  2. willis says:

    I was Craig’s rommate at the time… and he did a thorough study!

  3. Craig–That is awesome. Do you by any chance still have that paper saved? I’d love to read it if you have it.

    Willis–I had no idea you and Craig were roommates. What are/were your majors?

  4. willis says:

    Academicaly craig is a going to be an evil economics doctor, I’m a political science major, which basically means I am also a statistics nerd…… but not Craig caliber, lol. what did you major in? (if that was your path)

  5. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Being an ops research major, I can understand the infatuation w/ #s for Craig (being an econ guy) but how in the world does a poly sci major end up being a closet stats lover?

    LOL

  6. Willis–Interesting. I was a Philosophy major in both undergrad and grad. . .perhaps you can tell by the periodic “What the hell is he talking about?” moments in some of the articles :)

    Tyrone–Probably the same way it happens to a Philo major like myself.
    You take a problem and ask “Which numbers best represent this real-world phenomenon?”
    Craig asks “How do these numbers affect the distribution of capital around the country?”
    Willis asks “How can we use these numbers to build a superior legal structure?”
    And I ask “Why?” and “Do these numbers really even exist?” haha

  7. Pingback: Interview with Lehigh OT Will Rackley | Dallas Cowboys Times

  8. craig kocay says:

    this poor kid is probably looking on this very sight, seeing all of these comments, and just hoping we would get back to discussing him as a player…
    to appease that prayer, The kid looks great (i see him as a great pass blocking g) though.

  9. Haha I agree, Craig. I think he should be given a look a OT, but guard seems to be where most NFL teams envision him. The versatility is nice.

  10. Scott says:

    love the idea of the small school study.

    fyi occ at btb compiles scouting reports on rackley
    http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2011/4/2/2085140/dallas-cowboys-draft-prospects-will-rackley

  11. Where is DCT!? Haha BTB isn’t a huge fan of mine, but that’s a nice collection. Looks like I have Rackley rated the highest. . .I really do like his versatility. And I’m pretty stoked to start the small school study, which I’m going to begin tonight.

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