Vikings

Ben Leber Believes Rashawn Slater is a Day 1 Starter

Photo Credit: Thomas J. Russo (USA TODAY Sports)

Ben Leber believes that Rashawn Slater could start on Week 1 for whomever drafts him, despite sitting out last season. The former Northwestern offensive lineman has played both left and right tackle and did not allow a sack in the 2019 season. He’s expected to be available when the Vikings are drafting at No. 14 and fits the profile of a zone scheme o-lineman given his size (6’3”, 310 lbs) and natural athleticism.

“You’re gonna like what you see if you’re a team that drafts Rashawn Slater,” avers Leber, “because I believe he’s gonna be a Day 1 starter, and he’s gonna be highly, highly productive in the NFL.”

Leber recently broke down Slater’s tape on his YouTube channel, Wide 9 Entertainment. He looks at five plays that exposed Slater’s strengths and weaknesses. Three are against Ohio State, where he was matched up against Chase Young, the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft who took the league by storm.

The other two are from his game against Iowa where he stood across from A.J. Epenesa, a second-round pick by the Buffalo Bills last year who capitalized on Slater’s shortcomings.

Slater made a name for himself against Young in both games against Ohio State. But in the second play Leber breaks down, Slater displays his unique ability to explode out of his stance and fight off the “outside chop.” In the third play, he displays a dominant left hand that kept the Buckeyes star at bay. Slater uses a single punch to hold off Young, one of the best pass-rushers in college football at the time.

But Leber sees many shortcomings in Slater’s game. He’s not the best pure-puncher when it comes to fundamentals. He’s often wide and late with his hands, exposing his chest to the defender. And he lobster-arms too much with his blocking ability, relying on his hand strength to win matches.

Epenesa, the Hawkeyes defensive end, is a “strength guy” who overpowers Slater using the bull-rush and gets to the quarterback in the first Iowa clip. But in the second one, Slater uses good body angles to create a pocket for his quarterback and fend off the twist.

Check out the film for more detail on Slater. Given his profile as a large, athletic offensive lineman, and that the Vikings, ahem, could use a little help on the O-line, you could be looking at the 14th overall pick in this year’s draft.

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