Draft Exclusive: Small-School Stud

This FCS-level offensive lineman and two-time All-American drew quite a crowd to this week's pro day, with John Dorsey and eight offensive line coaches in attendance. The Packers need to think about left guard with Daryn Colledge's uncertain future.

The Lehigh Valley is a beautiful place, as Will Rackley's award-winning photography shows, but NFL scouts are drawn to off-the-beaten-path pro days for only one reason: talent.

And Rackley has that talent.

A two-time All-American at the FCS level, Rackley's pro day on Thursday drew 16 teams. Among the talent evaluators, a source told Packer Report, was Green Bay Packers director of college scouting John Dorsey and the offensive line coaches for eight teams.

That's some major star power descending on a school that doesn't have a single player in the NFL.

Rackley played left tackle at Lehigh, and while our source said at least a couple of teams think he could play right tackle, most teams consider him a guard capable of starting from Day One.

The Packers, who also met with Rackley at the Scouting Combine, certainly could use help at left guard, where incumbent starter Daryn Colledge could be an unrestricted free agent, depending on the language of a new collective bargaining agreement. With teams in the awkward position of having free agency coming after the draft, general managers like Ted Thompson might have to pick players based on the possibility of losing veterans in free agency. Besides, Colledge has been only a so-so starter and Rackley not only has the potential to upgrade the position but do so for a lot less money than Colledge will make on the open market.

With so many line coaches watching Rackley's workout and with Rackley scheduled for one-on-one workouts with at least seven more teams, it appears Rackley's stock is rising. Green Bay, which took Colledge in the second round in 2006, could replace him in the second round in 2010.

At 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds and with a background in a triple-option offense, Rackley said he wasn't highly recruited coming out of Riverdale, Ga. But with a 3.4 grade-point average and SAT of 1,080, he was a great fit for the Patriot League. Now at 6-foot-3 and 309 pounds, with nimble feet, a bit of a mean streak and heavy hands, Rackley possibly will be the highest-drafted player in Lehigh history, ahead of Kim McQuilken, a quarterback taken No. 69 overall by Atlanta in 1974.

"I definitely went out there and tried to embarrass guys on the defensive side of the ball," Rackley said with a smile at the Scouting Combine. "There were definitely times when guys have gotten frustrated with me just blocking them down the field and kept driving them."

Whatever questions there were about his ability to match up with the big boys from the power conferences were answered during his week at the East-West all-star game, which Thompson attended.

"I think a lot of guys had questions, especially coming from a D-I-AA school, that I haven't played against any really good competition," Rackley said. "I think it was a good chance to show what I can do against some of the best guys in the country. I think I matched up very well."

Despite playing a lower rung of college football, Rackley will enter the NFL relatively polished. The Philadelphia Eagles hold their training camp at Lehigh, so Rackley and his offensive line coach, Brett Sawyer, frequently received field passes to those workouts. Sawyer would incorporate the Eagles' line drills into his practices, and Rackley got some one-on-one mentoring from Juan Castillo, who was the Eagles' line coach until being promoted to defensive coordinator last month.

Rackley, an art design major, comes from an "artsy family." Both of his parents sing, one of his brothers is a music producer and another brother has done some acting and modeling. His photo of Bethlehem, Pa.'s historic steel mill, shot through the weeds that surround the mill, won him first place in a school-sponsored photography contest.

Photography, of course will have to wait. A football career beckons, with the draft now less than seven weeks away.

"I'm here to prove myself as a player, proving that guys can jump from I-AA to the pros," Rackley said. "Playing football is playing football. It doesn't matter where you're from, it matters how you play."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.


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