He produced a highlight reel of a rookie season that ended with his selection to the Pro Bowl. Even more encouraging for the Chargers, though, is how Rashawn Slater feels now when he re-watches his 2021 performance.
“I look at the tape and a lot of it kinda makes me cringe because I know there’s detail and technique and sometimes I’ll be like this close,” the young offensive tackle said. “There’s always that little room for improvement that can make a big difference.”
Who knows what, exactly, a better Rashawn Slater might look like, but the Chargers would love to find out.
He was impressive as a rookie, grading out as the sixth-best left tackle in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Slater allowed only four sacks and six quarterback hits in 752 pass-blocking snaps. His run blocking ranked fourth among left tackles who played at least 800 snaps, according to PFF.
This effort came after Slater sat out his final season at Northwestern amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike a year ago, he is no longer trying to find his way around the Chargers’ Costa Mesa training facility as a first-round pick determined to prove his worth. He’s now a pro attempting to build on a solid first step.
Slater called the shift in his reality “a huge game changer.”
“I just get the opportunity to take care of business and go about my day,” he said Monday following another session of organized team activities. “It’s a lot different.”
Slater’s rookie year was capped with the Pro Bowl, but his experience there wasn’t all positive. He said he contracted food poisoning during the week, something made even more unfortunate because of the game’s locale.
“We’re in Vegas,” Slater said, laughing, “so like no one would believe me.”
Slater, who turned 23 in March, is growing up in more ways than one. He got married two months ago, and he and his wife, Stassney, spent their honeymoon in Bora Bora.
During the Slaters’ time there, the Chargers traded for Khalil Mack, giving Slater another notable edge rusher to work against in practice. Slater said coach Brandon Staley texted him after the deal, saying “Get your mind right.”
“I better start doing some pass sets on the beach or something,” a smiling Slater recalled thinking at the time.
By Monday afternoon, as the story began circulating on social media, Stassney shared on Twitter a video of Slater doing exactly that — pass sets in ankle-deep ocean water with a forest of tropical trees nearby.