It isn't often that sons of NBA players wind up playing on the offensive line in the NFL, but that could very well be the case with Slater, arguably the Wildcats' best prospect since Pat Fitzgerald took over as head coach in 2006.
Slater's father, Reggie, played eight seasons with the Nuggets, Raptors and Timberwolves. Rashawn started 12 games at right tackle as a true freshman. He stayed there in 2018, starting all 14 games before making the switch to left tackle in 2019, where he started all 11 contests in which he played. When the Big Ten initially canceled its season due to the pandemic, Slater opted out, choosing to focus on his preparation for the 2021 NFL draft.
Showing the same light feet and balance which helped his father box out opponents, Slater has the quickness and agility teams expect out of a left tackle. His NFL future, however, may lie inside as Slater lacks ideal height and arm length for the perimeter.
Slater is a relative unknown outside of the Big Ten but an undeniable top-40 talent. No player selected out of Northwestern has been a top-100 selection since 2005.
Strengths: Looks taller and slimmer on tape than his listed size with NFL-caliber athleticism readily apparent. Good initial quickness off the snap, sliding out of his two-point stance with urgency and balance to tightly protect the arc. Quick enough off the snap to pull off difficult scoop and down blocks on defensive tackles, crashing inside and sealing them off. Plays on the balls of his feet and shows nice lateral agility in his shuffle and mirror, maintaining proper knee bend with active, forceful hands to stab and punch at pass rushers without getting too far over his skis. Good power and balance through contact, maintaining proper leverage due to his knee bend and core strength, allowing him to anchor effectively, even when defenders have a running start. Experience shows in his quick recognition and pass-offs on blitzes and twists. Versatile with experience at both tackle spots.
Weaknesses: College tackle whose average height and length could push him inside in the NFL. Has never played offensive guard. Quick off the snap but simply does not possess the long arms to lasso and recover should pass rushers cross his face, relying on his quarterback stepping up into the pocket. Gets a little handsy, extending his arms too far and risking drawing holding penalties for letting his hands slip outside of the numbers. Ducks his head when gearing up for big collisions, leaving himself vulnerable to quick swim and spins. Further, Slater is not the earth mover his frame suggests, needing to gain more leg drive to generate movement at the point of attack in the NFL, especially if moved inside.
NFL Comparison: Ali Marpet, Buccaneers - Marpet played his college ball at relatively tiny Hobart so the jump in competition that he faced is certainly different than what Slater has excelled against in the Big Ten. In many other ways, however, the players are very similar. Both played solely at tackle in college despite projecting better to guard for the NFL, both possess "average" size (Marpet weighed in at 6-feet-3 7/8, 307 pounds at the 2015 Combine) and above-average athleticism, among offensive linemen. Since being selected 61st overall, Marpet has started at center, left guard and right guard - but not tackle during that time.