With the 2021 draft beginning a week from tonight, the common assumption is that Oregon’s Penei Sewell will be the first offensive tackle off the board.
But Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater has a chance to change that.
Like Sewell, Slater opted out of the 2020 college season. When the Big Ten initially canceled football, Slater began training with a private instructor and continued to do so when the season came back on. But Slater’s most impressive on-field accomplishment at Northwestern was successfully limiting last year’s defensive rookie of the year, Chase Young, during Ohio State’s victory in 2019.
While Young had a sack in that contest, it came against Northwestern’s right tackle — not Slater on the left.
Slater, whose father Reggie played eight seasons in the NBA, sees himself as one of the draft’s top prospects.
“I think I’m the best tackle in the draft,” Slater said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “So I have a really high level of confidence about that, but at the same time, I’m a team player. If a team wants to play me at guard, I’m all for it. As long as that’s what’s best for the team, I’m happy to play whatever position they need me at.”
Slater is widely expected to be a first-round pick next week. But it remains to be seen if the league’s talent evaluators will agree with Slater’s assessment.