Rashawn Slater is a scheme diverse and positional flexible prospect who should offer a little something to everyone depending on what specific needs and traits are prioritized for any given franchise. Slater, who opted out of the 2020 college season and has not played since the end of the 2019 campaign, is well regarded for his fundamentals and functional athleticism along the front. Slater manned the left tackle position for the Wildcats. For teams that don’t prioritize certain measurable thresholds, he appears to be a viable candidate to do the same in the NFL—based specifically on his work against 2020 No. 2 overall pick Chase Young in pass protection. But Slater’s ceiling is likely lowest on the edge and the further into the heart of the line he transitions, the higher his potential is to become a perennial Pro Bowl player and potential All-Pro candidate in my eyes. Slater has tremendous cutoff abilities and clean, patient footwork working space and the necessary functional strength to hold his own on the interior. The position flexibility he offers ensures he can be a part of any NFL offensive line’s combination of best five players to start up front from Day 1.
Ideal Role: Starting center (teams will be well within rights to let him fail outside and work in if preferred).
Scheme Fit: Inside/outside zone heavy rushing attack to optimize lateral mobility, West Coast passing tendencies (if playing tackle).
Written by Kyle Crabbs
Games watched: Stanford (2019), Michigan State (2019), Ohio State (2019), Iowa (2019)
Best Game Studied: Ohio State (2019)
Worst Game Studied: Michigan State (2019)
Balance: Slater’s ability to work and slide down the line and sustain his posture and attach onto blocks late into reps is impressive. He’ll string out the point of attack well and still plays with power and control in such instances. His ability to gear down working up to the second level to pick off B-level flow to the football is excellent. In Slater’s sets, you don’t often see him overextend himself or allow his weight to roll out over top of his toes; he’s disciplined here and as a result clean to wait out finesse rushers but quick to anchor versus power.
Pass Sets: Slater is at his best to get set quickly and look to diminish angles earlier in sets. I do believe he’d work fine in a vertical passing offense if required to, but there may be a transition period there as he acclimates to an offense that has the quarterback holding the ball and allowing more shallow angles for rushers off the edge. The ability to hold his ground off the edge buys Slater valuable wiggle room in his sets if tested by more athletic rushers—a trait he’ll need if kept on the edge.
Competitive Toughness: I love his tenacity. Because he’s so well controlled in his movement skills and disciplined to avoid overextending himself, he’s methodical with working to gain ground and push up the field when working off of double teams. He has plenty of functional strength to his game and he can go toe to toe with speed to power or, alternatively, defensive tackles if he’s called upon inside. His effort on the backside of the play is a major plus and Slater will help pop off big runs as a result of cutting off defensive flow to the football.
Lateral Mobility: Watching the Stanford game gave me a great appreciation for just how quickly he can get down the line and work cutoff against 3T and 1T defenders on outside zone if need be. That level of range laterally will definitely appeal to ZBS heavy teams. Although in pass protection, if left on an island, Slater should still be considered a plus with lateral movement thanks to disciplined feet—he’ll redirect off his momentum well to challenge late stunt games in the pocket.
Length: Slater isn’t blessed with prototypical length to play on the perimeter, but he does have enough to meet the minimum threshold and as such, he’ll likely only be eliminated from consideration on the outside by a handful of teams. The wingspan he does have is put to good use to provide a compact punch and generates plenty of power to stunt forward push from edge rushers. This will be a non-factor if working on the side.
Football IQ: Slater is one of the 2021 NFL Draft’s most savvy offensive line prospects and that comes without having taken a snap in 2020. Slater understands angles, he understands the value of space when left unattended or forced to wait out stunts or delayed rushes, and he’s very fundamentally sound once he’s attached to a block. As an added bonus beyond his versatility, Slater has already logged starts for the Wildcats on both sides of the offensive line and has been exposed to footwork and techniques to suit both the left and right.
Hand Technique: Slater offers plenty of pop in his hands and has shown himself to be proficient in securing blocks and establishing his hands with a clean fit to sustain beyond first contact. Longer-armed defenders may test him if they’re playing outside containment and force him to be perfect with his footwork and gaining ground to stay pressed onto blocks. His punch is compact and he’s got plenty of power to stun. You have to appreciate how well he manipulates the point of attack to work across the face of defenders and provide space for his back to press through gaps.
Anchor Ability: Watching Slater pull the e-brake on Chase Young told me all I need to know. He’ll give some ground at first contact before subsequently sitting down on his hips; he does a very good job of keeping his hips sunk and will steadily slow aggressive charges into the backfield while leaving his quarterback enough room to step up in the pocket. Exposure to both sides of the line ensures he’ll be effective versus inside and outside alignments if charged with either fan or slide protection.
Power at P.O.A.: Slater is definitely physical. He’s not a pure overwhelming road-grader and he’s not going to consistently put defensive linemen on skates, but he’ll rock them on their heels and gain a half-yard advantage into the defensive field of play with consistency. He gets much more movement on his zone concepts where his functional athleticism allows him to transition momentum into his advantage and out-leverage defenders trying to string out a play. Well built for the pro game already, there's little concern with his functional strength.
Versatility: Genuinely feel as though he could play all five positions along the offensive line if need be. That kind of positional flexibility will be super valuable to his cause. The ceiling at tackle is fine but if teams want more of a high-impact player, kicking him inside and letting him climb up onto linebackers with greater frequency would produce excellent results. Any team looking to work him at center will simply need to vet his snapping consistency after a year layoff, but his physical skill set projects wonderfully to manning the middle and still handling power rushers if facing odd fronts.
Prospect Comparison: Jonah Williams (2019 NFL Draft, Cincinnati Bengals)
TDN Consensus: 86.75/100
Joe Marino: 88.00/100
Kyle Crabbs: 86.00/100
Jordan Reid: 87.00/100
Drae Harris: 86.00/100
- Jun 28, 2022
- Jun 24, 2022