On night one of the NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Chargers selected Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern with the 13th pick. He now joins DE Joe Gaziano and RB Justin Jackson as former Wildcats who are now Chargers.
Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald knows Chargers GM Tom Tellesco and LAC head coach Brandon Staley well, and Cody Cejda, a former Northwestern director of football operations and strategy, left to serve in a special assistant to the head coach role in L.A. Analytics are part of the role that Cedja has with the organization.
You can find out which way BetQL’s model is picking for this season’s NFL games, and how they’re predicting the Chargers to perform.
“They came and got my guy Cody, who I think is a rock star, so we obviously have a lot of conversations,” Pat Fitzgerald said.
“So when went through that process, we got to know the organization even deeper. A great synergy, they trust us. They’ve been around our program. They have people who’ve been in our building and know our organization and know how we run things and know who are players are, and I think that gave them a little bit of inside information on Rashawn and who he is.”
Additional Chargers-Northwestern connections include another former Northwestern Director of Football Ops and a former strength coach.
Also, Pat Fitzgerald has a great relationship with the Chargers lead scout Kevin Kelly.
When then asked Fitzgerald about what it was like to be at the NFL Draft for the first time, to soak in the glitz and glamor, the Hollywood aspect of the big event. In addition to Slater, Greg Newsome II went #26 overall to the Cleveland Browns, marking
a.) the first and second Fitzgerald coach players to go in the first round and
“You know where I am from, Orland Park, I’m not a glitz and glamor guy,” he responded.
“I just soaked it all in, it was great to see a couple friends, I saw coach O (Ed Orgeron) at LSU, I saw James (Franklin) at Penn State and Danny (Mullen) from Florida, so it was great to see those guys.
“I would gladly like for this to be my normal end to April. I could really get used to celebrating with our guys and family. I think that’s going to hopefully become pretty darn close to the norm, at least the challenge is now set for the roster.”
Given that he mentioned Orland Park, where Fitzgerald was a legend for the Sandburg Eagles, the only thing that would make this more perfect is if the team NU had a pipeline to were the Philadelphia Eagles. Sandburg’s arch-rival is Stagg, whose nickname is the Chargers.
Exciting times for Northwestern and the Chargers (who also have a pipeline/special relationship with Notre Dame). It was a fun weekend overall.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Tribune and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.