A year after the Los Angeles Chargers centerpieced their future with the selection of QB Justin Herbert, the club invested first in his protection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Chargers made Rashawn Slater the No. 13 overall pick, giving them one of the top pass protectors in the draft class. The All-Big Ten star from Northwestern will bring experience at both right and left tackle from the college level. He also projects well at the guard position, but his value at tackle should demand a lengthy look. Upon arriving at Northwestern as a freshman in 2017, Slater was an immediate starter at right tackle. He moved to the left side as a junior in 2019 and did now allow a sack all season.
"When I watched him, I saw a little bit of (Cowboys All-Pro OL) Zack Martin," NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said on the draft broadcast.
Slater (6-4, 304 pounds) opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. He brings a high level of athleticism to the position, giving the Chargers not only protection for Herbert but also one who can pull and reach second-level defenders on screen passes.
NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein compares Slater to former Cincinnati Bengals first-round pick Jonah Williams at the tackle position. Slater was the second offensive lineman selected, behind Oregon's Penei Sewell, whom the Detroit Lions chose at No. 7 overall.