Las Vegas Raiders: Alex Leatherwood to have growing pains in Year 1
By Brad Weiss
The Las Vegas Raiders made Alex Leatherwood their first-round pick in 2021, and you can expect some growing pains during his rookie year.
The Las Vegas Raiders head into the summer months with questions up and down their roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, the defense was downright atrocious at times, and that led to the team once again missing out on the playoffs.
On offense, the Raiders were led by quarterback Derek Carr, who once again threw for over 4,000 yards, and seems to have the confidence of both Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock. Las Vegas saw Darren Waller continue to be one of the best tight ends in the game, and he and running back Josh Jacobs made their first Pro Bowls.
UPfront along the offensive line, Las Vegas had their issues, as injuries and COVID-19 hurt the unit all year long. This offseason, the Raiders decided to trade away three of their starters, and at right tackle, they will replace Trent Brown with a rookie in Alex Leatherwood.
Raiders leaning on Leatherwood at right tackle
Right after drafting him, Mayock stated that Leatherwood would be the right tackle, playing opposite Kolton Miller. For those who do not remember, Miller had a pretty rough rookie season, showing the kind of growing pains that come with starting at left tackle right away.
In 2021, you can expect some of the same from Leatherwood, who is making the move from the left side to the right side, as well as making the jump to the NFL. Since his rookie season, Miller has become a star for the Raiders, earning a big contract, and the hope is that Leatherwood can have the same kind of trajectory.
Las Vegas Raiders to have plenty of national attention in 2021
The Las Vegas Raiders will play at least four games on a national stage in 2021, including the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.
The problem is, this team is built to win now, and if Leatherwood struggles big time at right tackle, Las Vegas risks another year outside of the playoffs. Leatherwood has the size and strength to eventually be a solid player at the NFL level, but he is going to struggle as a rookie, and the team must stick with him and allow him to play through it.