Even with a bye week under his belt where he wasn’t able to further put his talents on display, rookie tackle Rashawn Slater lost no ground to wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase when it came to ESPN’s recent edition of their rookie rankings.
Of course, Chase plays a skill position which means he’s going to run away with the award, but I have to give kudos where they’re due to ESPN for acknowledging Slater and his body of work so far this season. NFL Jeff Legwold continues to rank Slater as the second-best rookie behind Chase, who is honestly on pace to shatter the rookie receiving records that were set last year by his former LSU teammate, Justin Jefferson.
“Lists like these are often about degree of difficulty, and Slater checks that box pretty rigorously,” said Legwold. “He has already faced the likes of Chase Young, Maxx Crosby and Myles Garrett in his first six starts. Garrett did overpower Slater for a sack in Week 5 — though he may have gotten away with a hands-to-the-face penalty on the play — but body of work is always what matters most, and Slater’s body of work thus far is top shelf.”
Through the first six games of his professional career, Slater has only allowed two sacks, both of which came in their week five contest against the Browns. However, you could argue neither were actually Slater’s fault. On one particular sack by Garrett, Austin Ekeler tried to “help” Slater with a chip but it ultimately was the only reason Garrett was able to beat him to the inside. That play actually led to Slater telling Ekeler to stop chipping because of how much it was throwing him off.
Plain and simple, a rookie basically saying, “Let me take the best defensive player in the NFL one-on-one” speaks immense volumes about his confidence and overall ability this early in his career.
Slater’s been the recipient of major praise ever since his first game against Washington and there’s honestly no sign of it stopping anytime soon. Next up, potentially Matt Judon of the Patriots who currently leads his team with 6.5 sacks on the year.