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Bears met with Northwestern OL Rashawn Slater

The projected top-15 draft pick had the chance to meet with the Bears and work with offensive line coach Juan Castillo.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears met with Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater at his Pro Day on Tuesday. Slater made note of the visit to Windy City Gridiron in a post-workout press conference.

“Just being able to talk to them a little bit today and being coached up a little bit by [Bears offensive line coach] Juan Castillo,” Slater said. “Today was my first contact with them, but they were awesome.”

Slater is widely projected as a top-15 draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, with some draft analysts placing him in the top 10 of numerous mock drafts. It seems unlikely that the Bears would be able to select him without trading up, seeing as though they have the No. 20 pick in the first round. However, given their need along the offensive line, meeting with one of the top linemen makes plenty of sense.

Having opted out of the shortened 2020 season to focus on draft preparation, Slater’s Pro Day served as the first chance many had to watch him participate in football-related drills since the 2019 season. He was able to take advantage of his opportunity to showcase his skills, putting on a tremendous performance in testing and coming away with ideal measurements.

Length was a concern for Slater coming into his Pro Day, but he measured in at over 6-foot-4 and 304 pounds with 33-inch arms. His wingspan should be just long enough for teams who project him as an offensive tackle to do so, and his height came in better than some had expected.

Some have projected the three-year starter as a guard or even a center at the NFL level because of his lack of elite length, and while Slater is willing to play anywhere a team wants him, he remains adamant that he feels most comfortable at tackle.

“I think I’m the best tackle in the draft,” he stated. “I have a very high level of confidence about that, but at the same time, I’m a team player, so if a team wants to play me at guard, so be it. I’m all for it. As long as that’s what’s best for the team, I’m happy to play whatever position they need me at.”

It was his testing that caught the eye of many evaluators, though. Slater ran an unofficial 4.88 40-yard dash — which would have placed him second among offensive linemen at the 2020 Scouting Combine — with a 1.68 10-yard split. He also came away with an impressive 33 bench press reps and a 7.48 three-cone drill time, both of which being hypothetically good enough to place him in the top five among linemen in last year’s class.

Given his elite athleticism for his size, Slater attributes his hard work for his physical talent, as well as his father Reggie, an 8-year NBA veteran who bounced around the league from 1994 to 2003.

“I think it comes down to just two things: good genes and hard work,” he responded. “I inherited a lot of athleticism from my dad, I think, and I put in the work to be able to put up numbers like that.”

Slater is one of numerous 2021 draft prospects the Wildcats are pumping out this year. Greg Newsome II is widely projected as one of the top cornerbacks in the class and stands a legitimate chance of being a Round 1 pick. Running an unofficial 4.31 40-yard dash on Tuesday puts even more spotlight on the first-team All-Big Ten member, even if results from Pro Days prove to be slightly skewed.

Other notable prospects who performed at Northwestern’s Pro Day include linebacker Paddy Fisher, quarterback Peyton Ramsey, and defensive lineman Earnest Brown IV.

Fisher has been a mainstay on Northwestern’s defense for each of the past four seasons, starting as a middle linebacker all four years and finishing with 401 total tackles at the collegiate level. At 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, he brings a physical brand of tackling to the table that many teams — especially those looking for a MIKE linebacker — could find intriguing.

“I think just my overall instincts and nose for the football [project me well at the NFL level],” Fisher said to Windy City Gridiron. “My ability to find the ball and be in the right position to make plays. I think that that’s important at the next level, and I have that instinct and that football IQ to know what’s going on in front of me and going on behind me, and to understand defense and offense to make plays and find the football.

Brown is a 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive end who offers experience in a 4-3 base system and projects best as a 5-technique at the next level, though teams view him in numerous alignments. An athletic player for his size, he projects particularly well as a sleeper defensive prospect largely in part to his physical attributes and his versatility as a pass-rusher.

“[NFL teams] talked about moving me inside on pass-rush downs, as well [as 5-technique],” Brown elaborated. “Some say outside linebacker, mostly, they say 5-technique, and some say I could move inside for pass-rush downs.”

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