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When listening to the coaching staff at Northwestern speak about offensive lineman Rashawn Slater, you can’t help but to get excited about his pro prospects. The son of former NBA player Reginald Slater, Rashawn decided to opt-out of the 2020 college football season and instead prepare for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. His dominant performance against Chase Young a year ago was a clear statement game of the type of talent he possesses. While Slater started 26 games at right tackle and 11 games at left tackle, there are some scouts who believe he may best be suited to kick inside at the next level. Regardless of where he ultimately lands or plays, the Texas native has the makeup of a 10-year starter in the league where they play for pay. We had a chance to speak with Slater during his transition from college to the pros.
What was it like growing up in your hometown? Did you live any other places?
I’ve always lived in Sugar Land, Texas, which is a suburb of Houston. It’s a very diverse area, I gained a lot of different perspectives as a result of living here. Football is obviously king in Texas but my high school had low participation and we were a bad team. It taught me a lot about dealing with adversity and how to commit to a process.
Name a point during your college career when you had to overcome adversity. What did you learn from that experience?
After winning the Big Ten west my sophomore year, we went 3-9 in 2019. My coaches were challenging me to take on a more vocal leadership role and that just wasn’t my style of leadership. I had to face that and learn how to be more comfortable leading vocally. Something I learned was that due to the way I worked and played people already looked to me as a leader. To be a leader you don’t have to just fill up space with your voice, if you are already doing the right things as an individual people will look to you for guidance and you can just be real with them. You have to get uncomfortable and challenge people if they aren’t challenging themselves enough.
When an NFL scout pops in your game film, what type of player should he expect to see?
I am athletic, smart, strong, and sound in my technique. I’m extremely coachable and have made big improvements every year to my technique and abilities. I am far from a perfect player but I have the work ethic and physical ability to excel at every position across the offensive line. There are times I am inconsistent with my pad level, eyes, and hand placement but I am working every day to fix these things and am not a finished product.
"It's rare a player that can make an impact in the Big Ten in their first year of college and even more rare to do it on the offensive line. Rashawn earned a starting spot almost immediately and never gave it up.” – Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald
What area of your game did you work upon improving during the offseason?
Every year I add more to my offseason. Being stuck at home (due to the pandemic), I was fortunate to have access to a field and weights. I’ve also been working out at a gym called Plex where a lot of NFL players train, including Jake Matthews and Jadeveon Clowney. This year I’m emphasizing spending more time with my position coaches watching film and learning how to recognize defenses better. Defensive identification and awareness. Hand use and pre-counters in pass protection, hand placement, pad level and movement efficiency in the run game are all things I am getting better at.
Who has been the toughest opponent you have faced thus far in your career, how did you fare?
Chase Young is the most notorious but I felt like AJ Epenesa was harder to block personally. I felt like Chase was an easier matchup to me because I have the athleticism to recover versus speed guys. AJ did a good job of transitioning to power with his long arm. I am pretty strong but he had a little more length than me and I didn’t do a good job of snatching his arm down, hence why pre-counters are one of the things I am working on this offseason. Overall I played well against AJ but I could have dominated him with better technique.
All Access: To obtain the full in-depth scouting report on Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater, click here.