Ja’Marr Chase and Penei Sewell are the two most likely candidates to be the Bengals' fifth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater isn't far off.
Although Slater opted out of the 2020 college football season, his film from 2019 has him rising up draft boards. The former Wildcat started at right tackle for two seasons at Northwestern before transitioning to left tackle in 2019. Although he’s played at both spots, Slater is capable of playing guard and could kick inside in the NFL.
His most notable performance came against former Ohio State star Chase Young when they went head to head in 2019. Slater had his way against the star pass rusher. The 22-year-old is technically sound and extremely powerful.
Measurables: 6-4, 310 pounds—33” arm length
Strengths: Versatility might be his biggest strength. As mentioned, Slater can play anywhere on the offensive line. The best course of action could be starting him out at tackle, and moving him inside if it doesn’t work out. He may be the most fundamentally sound tackle in this class. He’s athletic and capable of using speed to get to some of the faster pass rushers. His hand placement and footwork are ideal for a rookie offensive lineman.
Weaknesses: His size could be an issue. He's on the smaller side for an offensive tackle. If he were to move inside, his size wouldn’t be an issue. He sometimes over-commits to speed rushers and allows them to beat him inside.
If the Bengals were to take Slater, he would be a perfect candidate to move inside to right guard while Riley Reiff is in Cincinnati. Slater is a fantastic prospect and is absolutely worth a 5th overall pick in this draft. He’s not as elite of a prospect as Sewell, Chase, or even Kyle Pitts, but trading back and taking Slater could work well for Cincinnati.
It’s unlikely the Bengals would take Slater over Chase or Sewell, which is smart, but don’t underestimate him. Although he wouldn’t be a great pick over the other two stars, he absolutely should still be in the conversation.
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