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The Green Bay Packers started rookie minicamp on Friday, and one player is already sticking out. Standing at 6-4 and weighing almost 330 pounds, defensive lineman Tedarrell “T.J.” Slaton is a guy you can’t help but notice out on the practice field. Upon his selection on day three of the 2021 NFL Draft, he immediately became the heaviest player on the roster.
The Packers used a fifth-round pick Slaton, who played four seasons at Florida. In college, Slaton’s weight reached upwards of 370 pounds, but he made it a point of emphasis to cut that down to 330 as a senior. Slaton said he noticed a clear difference in his play after slimming down a bit.
“Just being quicker,” he said. “I’ve always been a pretty athletic guy, (who) can jump and can run. Losing weight was just to get my quickness and hand speed down. It definitely worked for me.”
Slaton said he changed his diet to reach his goal weight, and that is something Green Bay will continue to monitor. According to Slaton, the team will keep an eye on his food intake and help plan his meals.
Even though Slaton is a big guy, like he said, he is very athletic. Just flip on his tape, and you will see a guy 330 pounds moving a lot faster and a lot more agile than expected. Slaton was a starting center for his high school basketball team and bragged about still being able to dunk a basketball.
“I was doing all of those things even at a heavier weight than I am now,” said Slaton. “Being 326, it’s definitely easier to get up over the rim.”
The Packers aren’t going to ask Slaton to dunk a basketball anytime soon, however, his athletic profile certainly falls in line with the type of guys they like to bring in. On the field, Slaton is a mobile player who can combine his strength and explosiveness into becoming a disruptive player on defense.
At Florida, he was mostly known for being a run stopper, and that is an area Green Bay is looking to continue to improve upon. The Packers have been trying to find a true running-stopping defensive tackle, and they’re hoping Slaton could be the answer. However, it’s not fair to label him as one-dimensional.
Slaton might be big, but he can be more than just a space-eater. He’s got good up-field burst to reset the line of scrimmage, and his hand usage is something that helps him get off blocks. Perhaps, rushing the passer is also an area where he can also provide some assistance.
Slaton said he has already been watching Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry, and he is starting to get a sense of what his role will be on defense.
Ultimately, when Slaton is on the field in 2021, it will be interesting to see how a big-bodied but sneakily athletic nose tackle fits into Green Bay’s defensive front.