First two mock draft selections
In the TDN mock draft simulator, one of the best features is the ability to make trades. The New York Jets called to jump back into the first round to grab their own offensive line help. At pick 38 overall, it was a no-brainer to select Northwestern left tackle Rashawn Slater. One of the 2020 opt-out players due to COVID-19, Slater didn’t have much to prove by playing this season. He’s already projected by most to be a first-round prospect.
When studying Slater earlier this fall, it was easy to see him becoming a starting lineman in the NFL. His lateral mobility in the run game fits the Chiefs’ offense as Andy Reid wants to run outside zone concepts. Offensive linemen that can not only get across the face of defenders and wall off run lanes, along with pulling as a lead blocker or climbing to the second level, bring massive value to what Reid wants to call. Plus, once he gets his hands on you, the play is over with his strong grip.
In the passing game, Slater provided strong showings against top edge rushers in 2019, including Chase Young. One of Young’s favorite pass rush moves was to convert speed to power, and Slater did an excellent job of recovering by resetting his anchor, ability to refit his hands, and fighting back with power. He might not be the longest guy at the tackle position, which could have some teams wanting to move him inside, but he has shown enough to warrant an opportunity at tackle first. The Northwestern product is intelligent, powerful, and mobility in the run game, makes him a steal in the second round for the Chiefs.
It wasn’t the plan to double down on the offensive line in the second round, but finding Alex Leatherwood available when picking again at 53 overall allowed me to add additional help for Patrick Mahomes. While the Chiefs already drafted Lucas Niang in 2020 as a third-round pick, Slater or Leatherwood could be successful if one of them had to move inside.
Leatherwood displays an excellent combination of size, length, and power for the tackle position standing at 6’6″ and 327 pounds. Not as mobile as Slater, but showcases the power to move defensive linemen off their spot in the run game and build momentum when climbing to the second level. In the passing game, he possesses active hands and an aggressive demeanor to attack edge defenders instead of waiting for them to engage. His hand placement and pad level will need to continue improving and become more disciplined with his aggressiveness. At times, the Alabama product can put too much into a block and find himself leaning forward into defenders allowing them to swim over the top of him.
With Fisher and Schwartz under contract for another year, it gives Slater and Leatherwood time to develop in Kansas City’s offense or move inside. Either way, the Chiefs need to find the starting tackles of the future to protect Mahomes and find improvements along the interior. We were able to do both with these two selections.