Even though the Los Angeles Chargers went with a defensive-minded head coach, the team needs offensive line help. Thankfully for general manager Tom Telesco, there’s a prospect that would help alleviate that need: Rashawn Slater from Northwestern.
The ‘Bolt’s need to desperately upgrade their pass protection in order to help secure quarterback Justin Herbert and get this offense to the next level. They could easily go pass-rush early in this draft as well but keeping Herbert upright should be their priority. Trading up for Penei Sewell might be an option but if the team stands pat, Slater should be the pick in April.
Who Is Rashawn Slater?
The six-foot-four and 315-pound offensive lineman was a stud playing in the Big Ten for Northwestern. Though he mostly played tackle collegiately, Slater might end up being a starting guard or possibly center in the NFL. A 2019 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten, Slater decided to forego the 2020 season amid the pandemic.
At first glance, Slater’s size can be deceiving, though he’s a college tackle, his current frame would keep him from being an NFL tackle. You can see in his film that he’s fluid in his movement and very quick off his feet shedding incoming tacklers. This will be key in pass protection at the next level. However, despite the quickness, his size would keep him from using that as an advantage from the tackle position when facing upper-echelon pass rushers. If he were to bulk up and gain strength, he could truly excel, let’s face it, you can’t coach height.
Slater Dominated NFL-Level Competition
In college, he faced the likes of Chase Young so he’s faced NFL-level talent before so that’ll be beneficial. On film, his awareness and recognition skills are excellent as he constantly picks up incoming blitzes and neutralizes defenders. If he were to shift to the interior and say, become the Chargers starting center, his ability to read defenses would be invaluable. His speed will also be huge in the run game, he’s very athletic and you can see him neutralize linebackers with said speed.
A concern on film, and probably one of the main reasons he should move inside, he appears to lose power as he stands up. Again, this can be remedied with strength training but it’s why the Chargers shouldn’t leave him out to dry as a tackle.
The team needs help all along the offensive line, whether it’s at tackle or the interior. The priority moving forward has to be to surround Herbert with as much help as possible. He has an underrated receiving corps and a solid running game but it won’t matter if Herbert finds himself on the ground. It’ll be interesting to see which route Telesco takes, if Slater’s there when it’s the Chargers turn, he’s worth consideration.