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Is Rashawn Slater the best left tackle in the NFL? The media says no, but results say he is.

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

Photo by Gettys Images

Slater is the poster child of what a lineman in the NFL should be. But what will it take for him to be noticed as the best at his position? If you watch close, you are seeing the best left tackle in the game.

In the pre-game presser for the Washington Football Team versus the Los Angeles Chargers, the number one overall NFL draft pick, Chase Young, talked about the upcoming Chargers clash and his opponent, left tackle, Rashawn Slater.

“He has reel good feet and strong hands,” said Young. “Go hard every single play. In my mind, if I go hard every play, he can’t block me every time.”

He’s right, Rashawn could not block him every single time. Because Washington head coach Ron Rivera moved Young away from Slater to the other side of the line. Challenge over.

In his rookie season, game one against what many thought would be the 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Slater had an almost perfect game against Chase Young. In Madden terminology, he was a 98.

Young and Slater have a history in the Big 12. And the last time they played against each other in college, Chase Young was completely irrelevant in that game.

Rashawn was a ‘98’. Zero sacks allowed & zero pressures allowed.

In that game, the deep underbelly of the world’s college and professional football know-it-alls started to figure out a great hidden player rivalry in the Big 12. Even though it was just a year, it’s too bad more people didn’t know about that epic performance.

The NFL Draft Network even wrote that Slater’s performance against Young “was legendary.”

Against Ohio State, Slater had not just the game of his life, it knocked on the doors of the best offensive lineman in the country. In 2019 he was. It is undeniable.

Drafted number thirteen in the first round of the NFL Draft, Slater was a steal. The Lions grabbed the other golden boy lineman in Penei Sewell from Oregon at the number five spot.

What we saw from Rashawn Slater, was one of the greatest rooking offensive lineman performances since Joe Thomas with the Cleveland Browns.

Being from a so-called media town in Los Angeles, Slater did receive accolades. His rookie year made him easily a top-two left tackle. But, being a Charger has its disadvantages with lackluster coverage and fan and media support. Bu the real football folks saw him.

Brian ‘Baldy’ Baldinger said he “was the best-left tackle in the league” after game one. Let’s put that comment in perspective. His very first game as a professional. Hasn’t played since 2019 and he goes out and dominates the number one defensive player in the college football draft.

Between the two, I really couldn’t find the separation between him and Slater. A few other scouts saw the same thing as I did. But many other pundits disagreed.

I have always been amused at what I call the ‘Templated Evaluation.’ It’s used in both the high school and college ranks. It is grading a player from an algorithm on ‘how’ he should look or be as a player based on his physical appearance. His height, weight, arm span, and hand size. It does not take into consideration his actual skill as a football player. So the grade comes out where he has short arms when there's no evidence to show that his ‘short arms’ is a problem.

All year long in college in 2019 he had defensive ends use an inside technique called long arming. It’s a one-arm technique to attack the insider shoulder to get the tackle off balance. And in 2021 with the Chargers, players were attempting the same technique on him. His technique, which I will get into in a little bit, made him the best college offensive lineman over Sewell in 2019. And watching every single left tackle and every play, to me, Slater was the best tackle in the NFL as a rookie.

Slater did not play in 2020 with the pandemic and getting ready for the draft. I would have loved to work with Rashawn.

He had 1,116 snaps in his rookie year. He played every offensive down for the Chargers. Out of those 1,100 plus snaps,

he allowed just four sacks and only 26 QB

pressures. Pro Football Focus had him at a grade of 80.0 for both a run and pass blocker.

Of course, I don't know how Pro Football Focus comes up with their grading, but I grade a player a little differently. Like everyone else, a 100 is a perfect score and there's no such thing as a perfect football player.

But if you watch every left tackle in the league, every play, which I have, I don't see how Rashawn Slater is not a top-three tackle.

There are variables in his technique. He is one of the most sound, fundamental offensive tackles I’ve seen in a long time.

His fundamentals and technique in pass protection are one of the best in the game. His balance is outstanding, footwork is great and like Chase Young said, he has very strong hands. Now, does that take over for his ‘short arms’ like Drew Breese was too small to play in the league?

Playing the game on the field tells you everything you need to know. Probably his worst game was against the defensive rookie of the year Micah Parsons. But Slater was the best tackle Micah Parsons faced all year long. To say his worst game probably made him the best tackle to play against Parsons says an awful lot.

Again, like me, Baldinger points out the near domination of Michael Parsons in that game. Parsons had his plays, and he was very good versus the run game, but he has moved away from Slater at times. That is strictly watching the game film with my eyes and watching him perform as a left tackle.

Trent Williams of the San Francisco 49ers was the consensus best-left tackle in the NFL. Injuries plagued him a little bit and he's 33 years old but Pro Football Focus (PFF) gave him a ranking of 96.9. I've watched every play of Williams, and I don't understand PFF came up with that ranking.

The only thing that I saw that was different from Slayer was maybe his instinct. You can see Williams is a consummate pro and is one of the best to play the game.

As a technician, he's outstanding, but with true sound fundamentals, Rashawn Slater is better. Tristan Wirfs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been rated in front of Rashawn Slater. Wirf has a lot of Trent Williams in him but moreover, some nastiness. Lane Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles is a great left tackle. But I always have to go back to true fundamentals and technique. Slater is a mold of what a left tackle should be in the National Football League.

I can go on and on with these tackles that the media has placed in front of Slater. All of these top tackle players have similar techniques some are better in the run game, some are better in the pass.

Rashawn’s rookie year did have some lows but not many. He's a rookie first time playing against this level of physicalness and speed. But four sacks and 26 QB hurries in over 1100 plays, that’s a step forward that makes him the best tackle in the game right now.

You have to look at the actual game and the performance of these players. The stats are real but how did the Chargers fare by running behind Slater and the defensive front against passing situations against him.

There are a ton of things we could talk about in this game, but we have to look at the plays and the results. Look at how good Slater is with the Chargers running behind him. Statistics tell a lot, but not everything.

What the defense threw up in front of Slater scheme-wise versus passing situations. He faced the best defensive ends in the game last year.

Against the Washington Football Team, Slater put up a grade of 96. That was based on real performance by him and the team that succeeded behind him.

Against Micah Parsons and the Cowboys he put up a grade of 83, and to me, that was his worst game. But his worst game was Michael Parsons’s worst game. We can throw grades and scores out, but when you look at the actual fundamentals and results of what the Chargers did with him at tackle, there's no doubt how good he is. But who says who is the best?

Media and their narrative have something to do with his ranking at #7 in the league. I guess I just don't understand that six players are better than him in front of him. They were all great tackles, but there are maybe two that are at the level of Slater and maybe just a bit better.

If you watch every single play Rashawn Slater participated in, it baffles me at that grade. Is it because he's on the Chargers? The team with the lowest fan interest, does the media have something to do with that? Of course, you can't blame the media for a player's performance, but you can blame the media for not taking the time to watch this kid and to see how special he is.

People have lives. But to just sit there and watch every single left tackle and every single play in the NFL begs you to have a certain type of lifestyle. That is my lifestyle and watching every single tackle every single play and every single game, I have to rank Rashawn Slater as the best left tackle in the game. Barring any injuries, he will be the best offensive lineman in the game of football.

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