Los Angeles Chargers draft grades: Home runs and head scratchers

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Rashawn Slater, 2021 NFL Draft, Los Angeles Chargers

CLEVELAND, OHIO – APRIL 29: Rashawn Slater greets NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell onstage after being selected 13th by the Los Angeles Chargers during round one of the 2021 NFL Draft at the Great Lakes Science Center on April 29, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Rashawn Slater
Offensive Tackle Northwestern

Los Angeles Chargers draft grade: A+

In a perfect scenario for the Los Angeles Chargers, a future franchise left tackle falls into their lap at pick 13 of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Chargers selected former Northwestern left tackle Rashawn Slater.

One of the biggest needs for the Los Angeles Chargers this offseason was to find a reliable blindside protector for their shiny new quarterback from a year ago. If they want Justin Herbert to continue to grow, develop and improve, they need to take care of him. Drafting Slater does just that.

While Slater is capable of being a very versatile lineman and can play anywhere that a team asks him to, there’s a reason I put left tackle next to his name above. Some believe he is a better fit at guard given his stature and athletic skillset, but take a look at his reps at left tackle against Chase Young and tell me that he doesn’t belong as a mainstay at left tackle.

Slater is one of the most athletic linemen that I have ever seen. He has a quick first step and is dangerous on the move. He is quick to engage, then smart enough to recognize when it’s time to shoot to the next level. With his size and athleticism, you better get out of the way if you see Slater coming at you in open space.

As a pass protector, Slater displays all the traits that you desire. His quick feet and agility allow him to stay in front of his opponent, almost like an elite basketball defender. He is a cerebral blocker who understands who his opponent is trying to beat him and is able to use that to his advantage. He uses his heavy hands, strong arms, and powerful base to engage defenders and lock them up right where they are.

I don’t care if those strong arms are *only* 33 inches long. It is clear that he knows how to use them on the edge, and combined with his athleticism that is clear on tape that he backed up with his testing at his pro day, Rashawn Slater may just be the best offensive lineman in this 2021 NFL Draft class.

This was an absolute home run pick for Tom Telesco and the Los Angeles Chargers who find what is hopefully their final missing piece to a stellar and well-rounded offense. Rashawn Slater could prove to be one of the best players in the 2021 NFL Draft and the Chargers didn’t even have to move up to get him.

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