Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater would be a perfect fit for the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of this year's NFL Draft. He's an extremely athletic, polished offensive line prospect whose film against Chase Young in 2019 is a thing of beauty. Whether Slater remains at tackle or kicks inside to guard, he has a chance to be an above-average starter from Day 1 with the potential to develop into a star.
The issue is that he's very likely to come off the board before the Vikings pick at No. 14. And since Minnesota hasn't traded up in the first round since 1987, they're not going to jump ahead of other teams to go get Slater.
But hey, you never know what's going to happen in a given draft. There's always a chance a player like Slater could fall further than most people expect, particularly if there's a run on quarterbacks, receivers, and cornerbacks early in the draft.
That's exactly what happens in the latest mock draft from ESPN's Todd McShay.
Here's how McShay has the draft playing out:
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
- New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
- San Francisco 49ers (via MIA/HOU): Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
- Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
- Cincinnati Bengals: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
- Miami Dolphins (via PHI): DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
- TRADE — Carolina Panthers (via DET): Trey Lance, QB, NDSU
- Detroit Lions (via CAR): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
- Denver Broncos: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
- Dallas Cowboys: Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
- TRADE — New England Patriots (via DEN): Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
- Philadelphia Eagles (via SF): Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
- Los Angeles Chargers: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
- Minnesota Vikings: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
McShay's reasoning for the pick:
Slater is super versatile and could play any of the five positions along the Vikings' line. That's a good thing, because it has a lot of holes — Minnesota gave up 39 sacks in 2020, lost Riley Reiff and added only Mason Cole to the mix in the offseason. After rebooting the secondary, the Vikings now have to be focusing on protecting Kirk Cousins and opening lanes for Dalvin Cook.
It's an unlikely scenario, but you can at least see how Slater falling to the Vikings is possible.
The major issue is the Chargers, who are in desperate need of offensive line help for Justin Herbert. In this scenario from McShay, LAC is thrilled to see Sewell — who some have dubbed a "generational talent" at tackle — fall to them. But that's the lowest I've ever seen Sewell go in a mock draft. I would be shocked to see it happen in real life, simply because he has so much upside as a prospect.
If Sewell is off the board, whether it's to the Bengals, Cowboys, Giants, or someone else, the Chargers will be there to pounce on Slater one spot in front of the Vikings.
Slater would be a home run for Minnesota, and they'd love to see the draft play out the way McShay predicts in this mock, but I think it's very unlikely to happen that way in reality.
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