Second-Year Breakout: Will Rackley of the Jacksonville Jaguars

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistMay 14, 2012

Rackley has to play better in his sophmore campaign.
Rackley has to play better in his sophmore campaign.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

No team in football needs their 2011 draft to break out in a big way in 2012 like the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The shadow of Blaine Gabbert looms over the franchise, but I've spilled more than enough virtual ink discussing him in recent weeks. The quarterback is a lightning rod for controversy, but the one thing everyone can agree on is that he absolutely has to play better in 2012 than he did in 2011 or people will get fired.

While all eyes are on Gabbert, 2011 third-round pick Will Rackley is also on the spot. The left guard had a nightmare rookie year. His inability to make blocks caused numerous sacks. Combined with Guy Whimper, Rackley helped to "anchor" a line that allowed dozens of sacks.

Rackley was just as bad of a run-blocker as he was a pass-blocker. Despite Maurice Jones-Drew's weekly heroics, Rackley was unable to open holes, grading out as one of the worst run-blocking guards in football.

Despite the abysmal rookie season, there is hope for the Jaguars. Rackley gained much-needed experience and guard isn't considered a difficult position. A little maturity and some coaching could give him just the boost he needs to become a credible starting lineman in the NFL.  

Of course, if the coaching staff can help Gabbert with a better offense, he may learn how to avoid many of the sacks that Rackley allowed.

If all else fails, the Jaguars can always find another guard. It's not a premium position, and it's a position that lends itself to stopgap solutions.

No team in the NFL got worse play out of its first two picks in 2011 than the Jaguars did out of Gabbert and Rackley. A breakout season by Rackley would go a long way to helping Gabbert improve and could lead to Jacksonville scoring more than five wins in 2012.