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will rackley guard | The DC Times

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Interview with Lehigh OT Will Rackley

Jonathan Bales

Yesterday, I published my scouting report on Lehigh offensive tackle William Rackley, a player the Cowboys seem to be targeting and one who would fit quite well in Dallas.  Last night, I was able to get in contact with Rackley and ask him a few questions about the upcoming draft. . .

Q:  How is your draft prep going?  What have you been doing?

A: Since my Pro Day, I have been doing a lot of private workouts.  Once those are over, I have some visits.  I have also been working out like a maniac to keep in shape.

Q:  Dallas showed interest in you at the Combine.  have you had any farther contact with them?

A: Yes, I actually have a visit scheduled with them on April 5.

Q:  How was that interview with Dallas at the Combine?  Did they (or any other teams) ask you any off-the-wall questions?

A: Luckily, I don’t have anything bad in my background that might make them put me on the spot.  I was happy to not really get any crazy questions like that.

All of the teams had me watch film, draw up plays and stuff like that.  All football-related.  Some of them teach you their plays and then test you on them.  They want to see how much you can remember.

Q:  Were you content with your overall Combine performance?

A: I thought my position drills went really well, but I didn’t run as well as I wanted.  I wasn’t really nervous or anything, but I just didn’t do my best in some of the tests.  I was really looking forward to the position drills though and I think teams were impressed with my work there.

Q:  You’re originally from Georgia.  What made you decide to attend Lehigh?

A: Well, I wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school.  I was mainly recruited by Patriot League schools like Lehigh.  Going pro was always a dream of mine, but when I came out of high school, I was really just focused on becoming the best college player possible.

Q:  Well you obviously made a good decision.  Those hills at Lehigh will kill you though.

A: (Laughs) Yeah, those hills get old really fast.

Q:  Have teams talked to you about moving to guard?  Would you prefer to stay at offensive tackle?

A: Some teams have brought it up.  Some want me to move to guard, some to center, and some think I can stay at tackle.  I don’t care where I play.

Q:  Do you have any experience at guard or center?

A: Yeah, I played guard my freshman year at Lehigh, and I also played center in practice.

Q:  How difficult is it to not constantly check mock drafts or watch television to see where analysts think you’ll get drafted?

A: I try not to worry too much about that stuff.  It can be hard, but I honestly don’t really pay much attention to it.  I know those things can change so frequently, so no sense worrying about it.

Q:  Know where you’ll watch the draft?

A: Just from home.  I just want to get selected as early as possible.

Q:  Last question.  Do you pattern your game after any current or former players?

A: No, I don’t really try to emulate anyone else’s game.  I do watch other players to see their technique and how they succeed.  I watch Jake Long a lot, for example.  But I don’t think I really try to pattern my game after anyone else.  I just do my own thing.  I didn’t really have any specific favorite players growing up or anything like that.

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

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