From one perspective, the Green Bay Packers are in good shape at offensive tackle. With All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and right tackle Billy Turner, Green Bay has one of the better duos in the NFL. However, Bakhtiari is coming off a torn ACL and might not be ready for Week 1 and there is no depth whatsoever with Rick Wagner and Jared Veldheer pondering retirement while in free agency. Remember, last year’s No. 3 tackle, Wagner, played almost 60 percent of the offensive snaps, so there is a need.
Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater is our No. 2-ranked tackle.
Rashawn Slater’s father played in the NBA but football would be the Northwestern standout’s athletic path.
“I stayed in basketball for a while, but at the end of the day, I was built like a lineman,” Slater told the Chicago Tribune. He added with a chuckle: “Had to run too much in basketball.”
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Reginald Slater enjoyed a length professional career with Denver Nuggets, Toronto Ratpors and Minnesota Timberwolves, not to mention the La Crosse Bobcats and some teams overseas.
While his father’s athletic genes might not have transferred, his work ethic did.
“He didn’t have the physical gifts to excel at center. He's really about 6-5,” Rashawn Slater told Rivals. “So he had to do it with work ethic. Growing up, he would always be in my ear telling me stuff like that. So, in high school, when I decided to pursue football and try to get a scholarship, I knew I had to put in more work than anyone around me. I got lucky, too, because I hit a growth spurt.”
That growth spurt got the Texas native a few Power-5 offers, including one to Northwestern.
Slater started 12 games at right tackle as a true freshman in 2017, 14 games at right tackle in 2018 and 11 games at left tackle in 2019. In 2019, by using the quick feet of a basketball player, he put up a signature performance against Ohio State’s Chase Young to supplant his spot as a top draft prospect.
“That game definitely gets talked about a lot. You look at my career at Northwestern, I've had 37 starts and started as a true freshman,” he said. “I've just gotten better every single year. It's more than just that game. You know, look at 2019 -- Michigan State Purdue, Iowa and more.”
Slater opted out of the 2020 season, using the time to work with offensive line guru Duke Manyweather.
“If anything, it’ll make him better,” Manyweather told The Athletic. “Where most rookie offensive linemen struggle is the mental side, not knowing what to expect. That was our focus with Mekhi (Becton) last offseason and now he has been one of the best young left tackles in the game. We have even more time with Rashawn to make sure we get the mental approach down.”
Measureables: 6-foot-4 1/4, 304 pounds, 33-inch arms. 4.88 40, 4.45 shuttle, 33 bench-press reps.
Stats and accolades: Slater opted out in 2020. In 2019, when he was honorable-mention all-Big Ten, he allowed zero sacks and five total pressures in 355 pass-protecting snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. According to Sports Info Solutions, he was guilty of one sack and seven blown blocks (five runs, two passes). However, he was flagged four times for holding and running plays to his gap averaged 1.5 yards before contact.
NFL Draft Bible says: He made a smooth transition to left tackle in 2019 after starting the previous two seasons at right tackle and laid down some highly impressive film against Ohio State DE Chase Young, consistently stonewalling him, while also getting the better of his matchup against AJ Epenesa. Slater will need to refine his technique and get stronger, but has a bright outlook as a next-level interior prospect. Slater may lack the height and arm length necessary to remain at tackle for some teams, but his agility and athleticism will allow him to kick inside and be an effective player at either guard or center as the worst-case scenario. Slater could still be valued at tackle in the vein of Isaiah Wynn.