Dallas Cowboys in Round 1
Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
Often seen as the second-best tackle in the 2021 draft class, the Cowboys would be lucky to see Rashawn Slater fall to pick number 10. Slater tested incredibly well at his pro day and has been in OL guru Duke Mayweather’s draft preparation. He was already a good tackle when he opted out, imagine him better now.
Slater displays good athletic ability, competitive toughness, pass protection, and run-blocking ability, especially in zone runs. His technique and footwork as protection allow him to maintain his half-man relationship with speed rushers anywhere from five to nine technique. He displays the lateral quickness and change of direction to defend counter pass rush plans as well. Every now and then he will be prone to bad punch timing and location, but he is still able to recover with his feet and good balance.
As a run blocker, he displays the necessary agility, acceleration, change of direction, and foot speed needed to be a sufficient zone-blocking offensive tackle. His footwork is fantastic, he is great at sealing defenders inside on combo blocks, and understands how to out-leverage the opponents on other base blocks. arm power runs, he displays pre-snap recognition, play speed, and good usage of hands that allow him to beat his defender off the line of scrimmage.
However, for how good this tackle class is none of them are perfect prospects; the same applies to Slater. Slater is fairly lean and has, at best, solid play strength. This can affect his anchor as pass-rushers try turning speed into power and when interior defensive linemen bull rush him on stunts. He can readjust and prevent a sack but will collapse the pocket in the process.
The play strength concerns also impact him when Gap blocking. He isn’t always able to drive or steer defenders away from the line of scrimmage. In addition, it seems he is only adequate at making second-level blocks likely from a lack of ability to identify his assignment post-snap
In all, Rashawn Slater is a very good player with positional versatility at tackle and guard. He should absolutely be playing tackle at the next level but if it doesn’t work he has the athleticism guard in a gap blocking scheme.