The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is in the books and for the Bolts, the selected tackle Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern.
As always, general manager Tom Telesco spoke with the media following the first round and here are three takeaways from Telesco on Slater:
Rewind to Two Years Ago…
Slater was a three-year starter at Northwestern and just two years ago, Telesco caught one of his games in person on the road.
Although he wouldn't know what the future would hold at that point, not getting a lot of facetime with prospects due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and beyond, Telesco was impressed with what he saw
"I got lucky enough to see a little bit of Rashawn two years ago. I was at the game (Northwestern) played against Iowa looking at some other players. At that point, I didn't know he'd be opting out for the next year, but he was a prospect at that point, obviously as a junior. I couldn't talk to him at those games, but it's a great amount of work by a lot of people in this organization to put this whole thing together."
Slater's Best Qualities in this Offense
In his pre-draft press conference, Telesco said he looks for three things when evaluating offensive tackles: athletic ability, strength, and football intelligence.
Slater checks those boxes for the Bolts, and according to Telesco, is a sound-fit for the new offense being ushered in this season.
"He fits us on-and-off the field. He's a high-level player. Very athletic tackle. He'll fit in the scheme we're going to run extremely well, which is a big part of when we draft these players, how they're going to fit exactly what we're going to do. I don't want to just concentrate on the passing game, he's a very good run-blocker. He can cut off defensive ends. He can reach people. He can get to the second level, which is the linebackers with really good speed and angles."
Telesco elaborated further on how good of a fit Slater will be in the one-on-one interview I did with him.
"A lot of our run game is going to be based on having to reach and run … which needs a lot of movement involved. Whether it's running out to a linebacker or trying to cut off a defensive end. He has all those traits that are going to fit very well. Also, when he was at Northwestern, he had a lot of straight drop-back pass pros, which you'll see a lot more at this level."
"We See Him as a Tackle Right Now"
One benefit to Slater is his versatility. He started two years at right tackle then switched to left for his final season playing at Northwestern. Previously, he played guard in high school.
While that ability to play different positions and sides is a benefit, Telesco made it clear where Slater will fit in this offensive line.
"It's certainly a bonus. You never know what happens in a game, if players get hurt, he can bounce around. But, when you're as athletic as he is and as strong as he is, he does have some versatility. But we see him as a tackle right now."
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