The staff of DallasCowboys.com has tried to narrow down a few names that could be targets for Dallas, either with the current pick or perhaps a trade. Today's featured player is Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater.
- Name: Rashawn Slater
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- College: Northwestern
- Height/Weight: 6-4/315
- Did You Know? His father, Reginald, played in the NBA for eight seasons with the Raptors, Nuggets, and Timberwolves.
Where He's Projected: Slater has been pretty routinely ranked as the number two offensive tackle in the draft behind Penei Sewell. Assuming that sentiment is shared by NFL front offices, where Slater is drafted may very well be affected by where Sewell is drafted. If the Bengals decide to take Sewell with the No. 5 pick then Slater will go to the next team that wants to prioritize the long-term future of their offensive line and protect their quarterback. That boils down to him probably being drafted anywhere from the No. 6 pick to about the No. 13 pick.
How He Helps The Cowboys: If La'el Collins and Tyron Smith, who both missed essentially all of the 2020 season, are both healthy then offensive tackle is far from the most pressing need for the Cowboys. But the case for drafting Slater is still intriguing and valid. Betting on those players' health is a gamble that would be particularly painful to lose. The Cowboys' offense legitimately has the potential to be the best in the NFL and perhaps even historically great from a league standpoint.. But all that shatters if they suffer injuries to the offensive tackle position and don't have competent depth to protect Dak Prescott.
If still on the board, Slater has the type of size and quickness to be great, and he has the athleticism to suggest he might be versatile enough to be able to play guard, which means he could still start alongside Smith and Collins and Zach Martin to help form another dominant Cowboys offensive line. One of the most enticing clips of Slater's 2019 season was the way he handled Ohio State's Chase Young, who Washington eventually drafted with the No. 2 overall pick and who the Cowboys will face twice a year for possibly the next decade.
It isn't a move in which the logic is contingent on injuries occurring, however. Smith's dominance isn't going to last forever, and that reality needs to be confronted. The Cowboys wanted an All-Pro tackle to protect Tony Romo for years to come in 2011, so they used the No. 9 overall pick on Smith, and no one would question that decision with a decade of hindsight. It follows that if the team wants someone to protect Prescott, who just signed a new contract, for years to come, then they might need to invest a top-ten pick to get one talented enough to be that great.
Bucky's Bottom Line: Rashawn Slater is the ultimate Swiss Army knife on an offensive line. He is capable of playing any position but possesses a combination of athleticism and technician skill that could enable him to play at an all-star level at offensive tackle. Despite lacking prototypical length for the position, Slater is a rock-solid blocker with the instincts, awareness and nastiness to excel against elite pass rushers. — Bucky Brooks
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