ESPN’s recent series top 10 positional rankings came to an end Friday as they capped off the past 11 days with the best offensive tackles in the NFL which were voted on by over 50+ league executives, coaches, scouts, and players.
Of the final three position groups covered, the Chargers managed to place just one player among those respective rankings while two other players were named honorable mentions within the same group.
To begin this recap, let’s start with the pair who failed to make their position’s top 10.
Both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams failed to crack the rankings of the top 10 wide receivers in the NFL. Williams was named the final honorable mention while Allen barely lost a close debate with Seattle’s D.K. Metcalf.
Here’s what was said about Allen:
“Allen’s game hasn’t changed much. He still makes cornerbacks look silly. He is still automatic for 100 catches and 1,000-plus yards every year. And he is still relatively low on splash plays (11.7 yards per catch for his career) and isn’t a big scorer (six touchdowns last season, and 48 scores over nine seasons). ‘He gets open on his own — that’s the biggest thing with him,’ an NFL personnel evaluator said. ‘He can do many different things and win with so many routes. That’s why, if you’re building a team, you’d probably start with Keenan Allen above many others.’ Allen was Justin Herbert’s primary target when he needed a first down last season, as 66 of Allen’s catches moved the chains, tied with (Stefon) Diggs for sixth overall.”
Keenan Allen is one of the best in the business when it comes to route running. pic.twitter.com/EDvIG9Ysne— NFL (@NFL) June 14, 2022
And here is what was said about Williams:
Williams had a career-year in his fifth NFL season, posting 76 catches for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns. The production earned him a three-year, $60 million extension. “Size, contested catches, big plays, TD production,” an NFC scouting executive said. “Perfect complement to Keenan Allen.”
For context, the entire list of receivers is (from top to bottom): Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, Deebo Samuel, D.K. Metcalf.
While looking at the entire list, I don’t think there’s much to argue other than Metcalf over Allen. Metcalf has failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving in two of his three professional seasons, but he’s managed to reach double-digit touchdowns (22 total) in each of the past two campaigns. While Allen is a sure-fire 100 receptions and 1,000 yards, his inability to reach 10+ touchdowns during any season throughout his entire career paints him as a limited athlete with minimal scoring potential. While converting third downs is big for a team’s success, scoring more touchdowns will always be the preferred outcome.
For this reason, along with Metcalf’s age and untapped potential, I can understand placing him over Allen. Sometimes it all depends on what the voters value more in a player, unfortunately.
Now, let’s talk about the Chargers sophomore stud who ranked among the top five at his respective position.
Rashawn Slater, the 2021 Second-Team All-Pro, was voted as the fourth-best offensive tackle in the entire league. After just one season! How incredible is that?
Slater ended up ranked higher than the likes of veteran Tyron Smith, Laremy Tunsil, and Lane Johnson. The only three players voted better were Trent Williams (first), Tristan Wirfs (second), and David Bakhtiari (third).
“He plays big,” said an anonymous AFC scout. “Plays with his hands really well, uses all his length, strong hands, great feet.”
Another NFL personnel executive said that Slater could very well end up being the top guy on this list a year from now.
“He tested dominant [pre-draft] but doesn’t necessarily always play that way. But his athleticism and consistency will carry him. Young, smart, will only get better.”
As a pass-blocker, Slater recorded a 90.4 percent win rate and finished the season with an overall PFF grade of 83.6. His pass block and run block grades from PFF were nearly identical by the end of the season, as well. He posted an 80.3 in pass protection and an 80.2 in run blocking which ranked 14th and 18th, respectively, among all tackles.
Here's Rashawn Slater (No. 70) with a HIGHLY disrespectful block of Patriots end Deatrich Wise Jr. on a 75-yard Justin Jackson run. it's rare for a rookie to own the left tackle position to this degree. pic.twitter.com/beQEHD1lDk— Doug Farrar ✍ (@NFL_DougFarrar) July 13, 2022
At the end of it all, the Chargers were one of only a handful of teams to put three or more players amid the top 4 at their respective positions. Those guys were Joey Bosa (EDGE4), Derwin James (SAF4), and now Slater. Other players to make their position’s rankings were J.C. Jackson (CB5), Justin Herbert (QB7), and Corey Linsley (OC10) while Austin Ekeler also enjoyed being snubbed among the top 10 running backs.