The Chargers finally put their money where their mouth is by gutting their 2020 offensive line in favor of better free-agent options in Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler, and Oday Aboushi. Combined with veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga, the only glaring hole left in the front five was the left tackle.
Consider that hole filled.
The first 12 picks of the draft lined up perfectly for the Bolts to select Rashawn Slater, a top-two offensive tackle in this draft who has a case for the top dog at his position. He slides right in to complete a vastly-improved line that 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert now gets to work his magic behind.
Here’s the quick-and-dirty on Slater: He’s the most versatile lineman in this draft. He can play tackle, guard, and center if necessary and succeed at all of them. Add in the fact that the Bolts have struggled to keep their line healthy throughout an entire season and his abilities become even more crucial for the Bolts.
At 6’4 and 304 pounds, Slater is an incredible athlete. At his pro day, he ran crazy 4.91 40, benched 225 pounds 33 times, jumped 33 inches in the vertical, and ran an eye-popping 4.45 in the short-shuttle.
Rashawn Slater is a OT prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.74 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 30 out of 1108 OT from 1987 to 2021.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) March 20, 2021
Slater is one of the top OT prospects in a loaded draft class.https://t.co/6lDu9ZaIuU #RAS pic.twitter.com/5WaeQk1uZm
All of his athleticism was very apparent on his film. He’s as smooth as they come both in pass protection and in the run game. I believe he fits best in a zone-blocking scheme where he can utilize his short-area quickness to wall off second-level defenders and blow open rushing lanes for guys like Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. Luckily for Slater, the Chargers began translating to more of a zone-run game in 2020, and things should only continue in that direction as Brandon Staley and Joe Lombardi build the new offense, which should include parts of both the Rams and Saints offenses. Hint, hint: both teams run a lot of zone concepts.
A quick way to feel confident in a prospect is if he happened to play his best football against the top competition. That’s exactly what Slater did against Ohio State in 2019 when he fought a war — and won — against 2020’s No. 2 pick, Chase Young. All night long, Slater shut down Young and essentially erased him from the game. Not many people, if at all, did that ever during the 2019 season.
Chargers’ newest OT Rashawn Slater 1-on-1 vs Chase Young— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 30, 2021
So the Chargers absolutely knocked this one out of the park. The board fell perfectly, and all the Bolts had to do was briskly walk up their player card to the podium.