Rashawn Slater’s pro day puts him in play for the Panthers at No. 8

(Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) Rashawn Slater
(Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) Rashawn Slater /

Rashawn Slater’s incredible pro day showing at Northwestern puts the left tackle in play for the Carolina Panthers at No. 8 overall.

One would have to look hard to find a 2021 NFL Draft prospect with more momentum than Rashawn Slater at the present moment. The offensive tackle has seen his stock surge over the past few months, which was given another incredible boost by his eye-catching pro day at Northwestern on Tuesday.

Slater’s extraordinary power and athleticism were there for all to see and won’t have gone unnoticed by NFL scouts. The Carolina Panthers will surely be one of the teams taking a good look at the prospect with Russell Okung unlikely to come back, but taking him at No. 8 overall when there is a clear desire for an upgrade at quarterback would be a huge call to make.

However, the Panthers could do far worse than look in Slater’s direction.

He has everything one looks for in a standout edge protector at the next level. Some are even expecting him to be a better professional than Penei Sewell, Oregon’s hot prospect who has long been considered the best tackle prospect coming to the next level this year.

That might be a slight on Sewell, who could become a generational talent at the position. But it is further proof of the momentum being generated by Slater at just the right time.

Rashawn Slater looks like the real deal.

Like Sewell, the lineman opted out of the campaign due to COVID-19 health concerns and hasn’t seen much in the way of activity since the 2019 season came to a conclusion.

This has allowed Slater to get extra prepared for the evaluation process and it’s clear from his pro day efforts that the tackle is in supreme physical condition as he gets set for the next stage of his fledgling career.

If the top-three or four quarterbacks are off the board by the time Carolina is on the clock and they choose not to move up in order to acquire one, then solidifying their protection would be the smart way to go. Slater has the potential to be scheme-friendly to almost any system and boasts some outstanding film against Chase Young – who went No. 2 overall to the Washington Football Team – to further boost his credentials.

Slater might not have the lofty ceiling of Sewell. But that should not detract from what an outstanding prospect he is.

Putting Slater alongside stud right tackle Taylor Moton – who was franchise tagged ahead of the deadline as expected – could potentially give Carolina a bookend presence to provide quality protection for whoever is distributing the football under center.

Not taking a signal-caller of the future is a tough sell if the Panthers strike out on all their potential trade and free-agent targets. They’ve made their bed where Teddy Bridgewater is concerned and it would make for a very awkward situation if the former Louisville standout was still Carolina’s primary option by the time OTAs came along.

Slater looks like the real deal and his pro day has generated a significant amount of buzz surrounding the player. There promises to be plenty of twists and turns before the Panthers’ draft needs become fully clear and there is even the chance of them not owning the No. 8 overall selection at all if they can make a trade.

It is a high-stakes offseason for incoming college recruits amid so much disruption. But Slater is doing more than most to make the NFL sit up and take notice.