The Minnesota Vikings are lobbying to move up in the 2021 NFL Draft.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Monday that several teams have called the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers about the No. 7 and No. 8 overall picks, respectively, including the Vikings.
Pelissero, who has many ties to the Vikings since he started at KFAN sports radio in 2003, said the Vikings “have been active, working the phones,” adding that the move would be in play if a top offensive tackle slides in the early goings of the draft.
Several teams have been making calls about getting into the top 10 of next week’s NFL Draft — including the #Patriots, who could have their eyes on Ohio State QB Justin Fields if he begins to slide. @gmfb @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/GjJazJXZQp
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 26, 2021
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Vikings’ Ideal Pick Revealed
If Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell is still available at No. 7 overall, by all means, the Vikings would offer up a bevy of picks to get this year’s top tackle.
Realistically, the Vikings are vying for Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater, per KFAN’s Paul Allen, and have put in plenty of work scouting Slater this offseason.
The 6-foot-3, 305-pound lineman ran a 4.88 40-yard dash at the Wildcats Pro Day, which Rick Spielman attended. Slater ran slightly faster than 2020 second-round pick Ezra Cleveland’s 4.96 40-time last season. Cleveland tested in the 96th percentile at the NFL Scouting Combine with that time, making Slater’s time even more impressive.
Slater played two seasons at right tackle before moving to left tackle his junior year and didn’t allow a sack in 2019. NFL Mocks called Slater the “hidden gem” of the 2021 NFL Draft due to his impressive college resume and family pedigree as the son of a former NBA basketball player, Reggie Slater.
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Slater Presents Predicament on O-Line
Slater’s rare athleticism was on display on his college tape as the Northwestern product often bailed himself out with his sneaky speed and agility.
But there won’t be the same wiggle room for him at the next level as an undersized offensive tackle.
Walter Football assessed Slate this offseason and said he would be an ideal interior offensive lineman.
Here’s their scouting report on Slater:
Slater’s calling card is that he is a phenomenal athlete for an offensive lineman. He is a smooth mover who possesses shocking speed for a blocker. Slater is very fast to the next level, firing out of his stance with a burst to explode to the second level. Utilizing his quick feet and agility, Slater is able to stay square on speed rushers and neutralize them running around the edge. His athleticism lets him be a natural knee bender who does not have to reach after edge rushers because his feet and flexibility get him in proper position. In pass blocking, Slater has good hand placement and is able to sustain his blocks with functional strength to tie up defenders.
In the ground game, Slater makes an impact when firing to the second level. He is dynamic in getting to linebackers off the snap along with peeling off defensive linemen and then hitting a linebacker to help open a hole. With his speed, athleticism, and ability to play in space, Slater is a great fit for a zone-blocking scheme. While he has some functional strength, Slater is limited and is not a true bull who can overpower defenders at the line of scrimmage. He fights, but he is not a people mover to drive defenders backward off the ball.
Slater can have problems with length and strength on the edge, with long defenders able to keep him at a distance, which allows them to use space to run free. His smaller build means strong defenders can get him rolling backward somewhat with bull rushes, and at times in the ground game, they stand him up without issue.
The Vikings will have to feel out Slater’s comfort in training camp and assess whether he is ready to take the reigns at left tackle. A camp battle between Slater and Cleveland could take place with the loser being relegated to guard.
If a team lands Rashawn Slater, they NEED to try him at LT first. He’s a rare athlete and could overcome his length issues and be a high-end blindside protector in the NFL.
Only kick him inside as a last resort. He never played iOL in college & could lack the anchor to play OG. pic.twitter.com/YtaLSnxFoO
— Purple FTW! Podcast (@PurpleForTheWin) April 26, 2021