Bears, NFL converge to scout Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater

He’s expected to be the first Wildcat picked in the first round since defensive end Luis Castillo went No. 28 to the Chargers 16 years ago,

SHARE Bears, NFL converge to scout Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater

Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater, participates in the school’s pro day Tuesday.

Charles Rex Arbogast, AP Photos

There have been years when the highlight of Northwestern’s pro day was coach Pat Fitzgerald’s annual retelling of his own performance in 1996. Never known for his speed, the two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year was so happy with his modest 4.82-second 40-yard dash that he turned a cartwheel.

On Tuesday, though, Ryan Fieldhouse was the center of the NFL world —and not just because the canceled NFL Scouting Combine has made college pro days national events.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace, coach Matt Nagy and offensive line coach Juan Castillo were among the representatives from all 32 teams on campus to watch, among 11 Northwestern players, tackle Rashawn Slater. He’s expected to be the first Wildcat picked in the first round since defensive end Luis Castillo went No. 28 to the Chargers 16 years ago, and could be the second Northwestern player drafted in the top 22 since the AFL-NFL merger.

“I’m not gonna be the last . . .” Slater said. “Hopefully it’s the start of a new norm.”

It might take a few hours for the next one. Cornerback Greg Newsome II improved his chances to be picked in the first round with a 4.38 40-yard dash and 40-inch vertical leap Tuesday.

Slater, though, is the big fish: ESPN’s Mel Kiper took him 13th in his latest mock draft, while NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has him 12th. Slater said he received instruction Tuesday from Juan Castillo. The Bears pick 20th and need a tackle after deciding to cut Bobby Massie.

Slater’s arm length has led some to project him as a guard. Slater said he wants to play tackle. The son of former NBA player Reggie Slater started 37 games for the Wildcats, moving from right tackle to left tackle in 2019.

He opted out in August and began training in Dallas. On Tuesday, he posted 33 bench-press reps, which would have tied for the fourth-best total at last year’s combine.

He allowed one quarterback hit and no sacks as a junior in 2019. He shut down Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young, the future No. 2 overall pick.

“My mindset was just, ‘Everyone says this is the best guy, so I’m going to go out there and show them that I am,’ ” Slater said.

Since 2003, Northwestern has had two players picked in the first three rounds. Newsome, who went to Glenbard North before finishing his high school career in Florida, will combine with Slater to match that total. If he goes earlier, Northwestern would boast its first-ever first-round tandem.

“As a corner, you have to have a great demeanor about you,” Fitzgerald said of Newsome, who led the Big Ten with 10 pass breakups last year. “You have to have a high level of compete, you gotta have the hips and the feet and the top-end speed. You gotta be able to be out there on the edge and be fearless. And that’s Greg Newsome.”

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