Offensive lineman Rashawn Slater burst onto the scene in Northwestern’s 2019 game against Ohio State, when he held future NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young without a sack.
Slater projects as one of the top linemen in April’s draft, though he could shift inside from his preferred position at tackle. Slater stands at 6-foot-3 with 33-inch arms, smaller than the prototypical NFL tackle.
He thinks that his body of work on the field is more important than any pro day test.
“You put so much work in, put all that film out of you playing tackle, and people are gonna question it just based off of a measurable?” Slater asked.
Explosiveness is a big strength of Slater’s, and he impressed in the other pro day drills, running the 40-yard dash in 4.88 seconds and recording 33 reps of the bench press.
Though he prefers to play tackle, it ultimately comes down to the needs of whatever team drafts him.
“I think I’m the best tackle in the draft,” Slater said. “But at the same time I’m a team player. If a team wants to play me at guard, so be it.”
Slater opted out of the 2020 NCAA season, training with Michael Johnson Performance in Dallas, Texas. Though he didn’t hone his skills on gamedays this year, Slater focused on his technique and learning more about football.
“Every single day I was learning something new…how to move more efficiently, how to leverage better, be more explosive off the ball,” Slater said. “My technique has shot up since the last time I played.”
He also worked on his physical traits.
“I’ve just been getting in a lot of work, working on improving my mobility, my body composition, strength, stuff like that,” Slater said.
Though he’s bloomed under professional guidance after opting out, Slater also credited his time at Northwestern, which has emerged as an NFL talent pool in recent years, for his success.
“They do everything right here,” Slater said. “The way they develop us as athletes, I think I’m not gonna be the last [here].”
With longtime blindside protector Alejandro Villanueva likely out the door, the Steelers will be in the market for a left tackle. As one of the best tackles in the draft, however, Slater will probably be gone before they pick at 24, especially with linemen-needy teams like the Jets, 49ers, Chargers and Bears ahead of them.