When the Chargers finished drafting their nine-player rookie class earlier this year, analysts and media members alike were in enthralled with the way the Bolts were able to absolutely nail their two biggest needs of the offseason: offensive tackle and cornerback.
Fast forward to the end of September and both of their top picks, Rashawn Slater and Asante Samuel Jr., are alresdy being viewed as two of the best rookies in the league.
On the same day that Samuel was named the NFL's Rookie of the Month, Slater debuted as the top-ranked first-year player on ESPN's first edition of their rookie rankings.
Here's what senior writer Jeff Legwold had to say about Slater's number one ranking:
“That No. 13 slot has been a quality draft spot for tackles over the past two years — Tristan Wirfs was selected there in the 2020 draft — and Slater has been entrusted to protect the blindside of the Chargers’ most valuable investment: QB Justin Herbert. Folks might ask why there wasn’t a skill player at the top, but it’s about degree of difficulty as well. And other than quarterback, no position might face a more difficult introduction to the league than a rookie left tackle.”
“Slater is one of two rookie tackles to see at least 80 pass block plays so far and not allow a sack (Penei Sewell). And Slater’s work in Week 1 against Washington edge rusher Chase Young was just a football appetizer for what he has done in the early going.”
More specifically, Slater has allowed just five pressures through his first three games in the NFL. He's had to face several of the league's top pass rushers and he's scheduled to face another intimidating duo this week in Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue.
But just like the last three weeks, expect Slater to keep his head down, get to work, and come more than ready for whatever is in store for him on Monday night.