2021 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: OL Rashawn Slater, Northwestern

Could Northwestern's Rashawn Slater fall to the Giants at No. 11, and if so, would it be worth it for them to draft him? Nick Falato has your answers.
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OL RASHAWN SLATER

Height: 6'4"
Weight: 304 lbs.
Class: Senior
School: Northwestern


Rashawn Slater was a three-star recruit from Sugar Land, Texas, where he attended Clements High School. He started as a true freshman for the Wildcats and earned a spot on the Big-10 All-Freshman Team.

He was also Third Team All Big-10 in 2018 and honorable mention All Big-10 in 2020. Slater caught a lot of eyes in 2019 and was named a Pre-Season All-American, but the talented tackle opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.

Slater had a solid pro day earlier this month; he ran a 4.88 40-yard-dash and a 7.48 3-cone drill which is very impressive. For reference, Andrew Thomas ran a 7.58 3-cone at last year’s combine, and that ranked in the 78th percentile for tackles in the history of combine statistics.

Slater also had big 10 ½” hands which measures around the 80th percentile for tackles. All well and good, but his 33” arms are well below average for a starting tackle in the NFL.

There have been tackles with similar reaches, but typically conversations about switching to guard surround players with shorter arms. I feel Slater can play either position.

Traits

Good size with marginal arm length and big meaty hands that he uses exceptionally well to control the point of attack. Slater has very good athletic ability with excellent foot speed, hips, and change of direction that allows him to transition on and off blocks effortlessly. He has a good build-up speed to get to the second level with excellent location skills--plays with good balance and control.

Slater is a good run blocker who is dangerous blocking down the line of scrimmage against 3-Techniques. He uses his hands very well on these lateral blocks; establishes contact on the breastplate, explodes low to high, puts a rear hand on the small of the defender’s backs, and churns his legs, unlocking very good functional strength to win. He plays with a lot of mental processing and uses defender’s decisions against certain play-side runs.

In base situations, Slater frames his blocks well, plays with good overall leverage, and does a solid job blocking from the ground up and playing with a firm base to maximize his power. Does a very good job transiting in deuce situations on chip & climbs. His hips are phenomenal, and he uses very good timing to close and seal angles.

Can also kick out into space on playside pin-pull concepts when aligned to the strength; does well with locating and shows exceptional athletic ability in this area and football intelligence to use the correct angles.

He has great feet in pass protection; sets usually look very good and smooth. He covers a good amount of ground in his vertical set and frames blocks well while jump setting. Excellent use of hands and grip strength; controls with outside arm up the arc and uses an inside arm to steer--great core strength.

He does a good job adjusting his hands to counters and mirrors his feet well up the arc and on counter spins to either side - showing that impressive hip fluidity. Anchor is also solid. I love what I see from him in recovery; he’s not beat all that often, but when he is--he recovers very smoothly and seems to be calm.

Sometimes uses the wrong set move and puts himself into disadvantageous positions; he typically has enough athleticism to overcome mistakes, but I saw it in multiple games. He has enough strength for the NFL, but I wouldn’t say his strength or anchor are elite.

He is more of a blocker who uses very good angles and relies on athleticism rather than strength. The lack of length can be an issue at tackle in the NFL. He isn’t a tonger but sometimes goes wide with his punch in pass protection which leaves his chest a bit exposed; it wasn’t a huge issue, but something to note.

Overall, Slater is a sure-fire top 15 selection who has all the movement skills desired and most of the nuance to the position. I believe Oregon’s Penei Sewell has more upside as a player, but I like Slater’s abilities, and he’s just a reliable asset. He plays with very good competitive toughness and finishes blocks in a mean manner--that Joe Judge mentality--would love to see him as a New York Giant in 2021.


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