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Pro Day Watch 1.0: Rashawn Slater Leads First Round Of Prospects To Participate In New Combine Format

Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, left, engages Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Oct. 18, 2019, in Evanston, Ill. Ohio State won 52-3. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, left, engages Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Oct. 18, 2019, in Evanston, Ill. Ohio State won 52-3. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the opinion of the team.

General manager Martin Mayhew and executive vice president of football/player personnel Marty Hurney's first offseason with the Washington Football Team will be a little different than what they're used to.

The NFL cancelled the Scouting Combine in its original format, which normally takes place in Indianapolis, instead electing to place more emphasis on the college pro days spread across the country. Kansas was the first school to have its pro day March 5, but the remaining schools will be hosting league scouts leading up to the draft in late April. Here are the schools that will be having their pro days this week: (check out the full pro day schedule, HERE, as well as the full list of athletes to receive a combine invite, HERE.)

  • Kansas State
  • Northwestern
  • Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • Arkansas
  • Marshall
  • Maryland
  • Wisconsin
  • Clemson
  • Nevada
  • Texas
  • Arkansas State
  • North Dakota State
  • Oklahoma

Each week, will be highlighting 10 players trying to impress scouts and improve their draft stock. The first batch of pro days feature some of the best linemen in the country, led by Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, who is widely regarded as a first-round talent.

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

Slater does not receive as much hype as other prospects like Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw or Oregon's Penei Sewell, but he is just as talented and dominant against edge rushers. Prior to opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, he grabbed plenty of attention for his production in 2019 by allowing just five pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

What's more, he had no problem handling some of the best defensive ends in the country. Just ask former No. 2 overall pick and last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year, Chase Young.

The biggest question Slater will have to answer is whether he can overcome his arm length, which analysts point out is shorter than Sewell's. This is one of the reasons some think whichever team drafts Slater will try to move him to guard, where his arm length would not be as much of an issue against interior defensive linemen.

"The more I watch him, the more I like him," ESPN draft expert Todd McShay said of Slater. "And I kind of debated with myself, and I still have more tape to watch, but Slater is light on his feet. [He] doesn't have the long arms that you look for, and I actually projected maybe inside at guard or center."

Despite the debate of where he fits on the line, most analysts agree Slater is worthy of being taken in the first round. Mel Kiper Jr. ranked him 11th among his top 25 prospects in February, but a strong showing during his pro day could move him up even higher.

"He has good feet and is an excellent pass-blocker; he didn't allow a sack last season while playing on the left side," Kiper said. "He moves really well for his size. Slater opted out of the 2020 season, but he didn't need to prove much in the Big Ten."

Here are some other players to keep an eye on throughout the week:

Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson

Regarded as the No. 9 offensive tackle by The Draft Network, Clemson's Jackson Carman is one of the bigger prospects, coming in at 345 pounds. Carman played about 2,000 snaps and started 27 games for Clemson, so he has plenty of experience. He has solid athleticism, but his size might force him to move inside to guard or center.

Jonathan Marshall, DT, Arkansas

Jonathan Marshall's production jumped up significantly in 2020 with 35 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass breakup, and he was handsomely rewarded for his efforts with All-SEC second-team honors. Marshall had 29 pressures last season, which led all SEC interior defensive linemen, and had the second-highest overall PFF grade for his position. Marshall only started one season at Arkansas, but a strong pro day could grab scouts' attention.

Rachad Wildgoose, CB, Wisconsin

Rachad Wildgoose got injured two games into the season and subsequently decided to opt out in favor of declaring for the draft, but his career stats with the Badgers are certainly impressive. He was targeted 57 times over the past two seasons and allowed a 40.4 completion percentage. Wildgoose also had 15 pass breakups to go with 57 tackles, and while he is projected to be a late-round pick, he could provide quality depth in his rookie season.

Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas

Joseph Ossai is seen by many as one of the best edge rushers to come out of the Big 12 this year with 24 starts under his belt. He has used his natural athletic ability to force five fumbles, three of which came in 2020. Ossai had 10.0 sacks, 144 tackles and a pair of interceptions over the past two seasons, so it is clear he has the versatility needed to excel at the professional level.

Brenden Knox, RB, Marshall

Brenden Knox put up quite a career at Marshall with more than 3,000 total yards and 25 touchdowns, but one of his most impressive traits was how well he takes care of the football with just one fumble on 577 touches. Knox was the 2019 Conference USA MVP with 1,387 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, and he is expected to be a mid- to late-round prospect.

Jonathan Adams, WR, Arkansas State

The only Arkansas State player to receive a combine invite this year, Jonathan Adams got progressively better in each season with the Red Wolves. He entered his senior year standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 220 pounds, and he used that size to make 79 receptions for 1,111 yards and 12 touchdowns. Adams is projected by NBC Sports to be a Day 3 pick, but his size and ability could be of use to a variety of offenses.

Tre Brown, CB, Oklahoma

Tre Brown, who came into the 2020 season at 186 pounds, might be on the small side, but that did not stop the 5-foot-10 corner from coming down with a career-high three interceptions for the Sooners. He has also been successful against deep passes, as he has not allowed more than 70 yards in a single game over the past two seasons. With NFL offenses using more vertical passing attacks every year, that is a skill many defenses could use.

Pooka Williams Jr., RB, Kansas

Technically, Pooka Williams Jr. has already participated in his pro day, as the Jayhawks hosted scouts last Friday, but he put together an impressive performance with a 4.36 40-yard dash time and a 33-inch vertical. Williams decided to opt out four games into the 2020 season, but he put up 1,200 scrimmage yards in 2018 and 2019. Perhaps his pro day performance reminded scouts of his talent.

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Trey Lance only played one game in 2020 before North Dakota State's season was postponed, but that has not kept analysts from praising the signal-caller for his intangibles. Lance's 2019 season, during which he completed 66.9% of his passes and threw 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions, was by far the biggest sample size scouts have to go on, so there are sure to be plenty of quarterback-needy teams looking to see what Lance can do during his pro day. Regardless, Lance is considered to be one of the first quarterbacks taken in the draft.

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