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Chris Slayton Could Impress at Combine

By Dave Holcomb
SouthernPigskin.com
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His numbers don’t necessarily pop on the stat sheet, but Slayton might be one of strongest defensive tackles in the 2019 class.

Last fall, senior defensive tackle Chris Slayton played an instrumental part in Syracuse’s first 10-win season since 2001. Serving as defensive captain for the Orange, Slayton earned All-ACC honorable mention.

His numbers don’t necessarily pop on the stat sheet, but Slayton might be one of strongest defensive tackles in the 2019 class. He will have the opportunity to prove that and elevate his draft stock at the NFL combine starting on Feb. 28.

Slayton received his NFL combine invite in early February according to Syracuse.com. He and the other defensive linemen are scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium, on Feb. 28. Workouts and examinations begin the next day.

Like a lot of players, there’s a wide range of opinions on Slayton’s draft stock heading into the combine. Walter Football ranks him the 10th-best defensive tackle in the class and projects him as a second or third-round selection.

CBS Sports doesn’t get that specific with their rankings, but based on their projections, Slayton is 25th among all defensive linemen and 172nd overall. That places him towards the end of the fifth round (actually just a couple picks away from the sixth).

But it wouldn’t at all be a surprise to see Slayton elevate his draft stock during his stint at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

While at Syracuse, Slayton became known for his incredible strength in the gym. Coach Dino Babers raved about that following the team’s victory against West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl.

“We’re losing an ‘M’ and an ‘N’ with a ‘A’ in the middle,” Babers said according to Syracuse.com. “Slayton is all man, and I won’t get into awards that he did or did not receiver, but his family is going to be really happy with him.”

Babers didn’t stop there and went on to sell Slayton as an NFL player.

“That guy is going to be playing a lot of football for a long time. I’m really reserved about saying that about people … This guy is going to play in the National Football League. He’s going to be a fantastic player.”

Slayton ended his senior season with 24 total tackles, including 8.0 for loss and 3.5 sacks. He also posted six quarterback hurries and forced one fumble, but he made an impact far beyond those stats.

As a lot of defensive tackles with that “man” label do, Slayton ate multiple blockers, taking on double teams, to help the Syracuse defense. The Orange were first in sacks (43) and third in tackles for loss (96) in the ACC. They were also first in the conference with 13 fumble recoveries, which helped Syracuse lead the ACC in both takeaways and turnover margin.

Walter Football cited his performance at the East-West Shrine as a big reason he could be selected on Day 2 of the 2019 draft. They couldn’t say enough good things about his play that day, calling him “probably the best player at the East-West Shrine.”

From Walter Football:

He dominated in the pass-rushing one-on-ones, ushing speed, leverage and strength to consistently get the better of the offensive linemen. Slayton also showed the ability to play a variety of techniques on the defensive line with versatility to fit any NFL defense. The athletic Slayton does a fantastic job of staying low and playing with good leverage while also utilizing the length that comes with his frame.

They write as though Slayton is the best-kept defensive secret in the 2019 draft class. Maybe the Syracuse defensive tackle will prove that to be true, but if he’s going to continue to rise the draft board, he must turn in a very strong performance at the NFL combine.

Based on his previous gym track record, he has an excellent change to do just that.