Las Vegas Raiders: 5 musts for the offense to succeed in 2021
2. Alex Leatherwood must live up to his draft position
The Raiders shocked the NFL world, or at least some members of it, by taking Alex Leatherwood with the 17th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Some thought he was more likely a second-round tackle prospect while others had him pegged as a guard. Regardless of what others thought of him, the Raiders thought highly enough of him to use their mid-first round pick on the young man and he is one of the keys on offense.
Reports from training camp have been incredible as coaches and players talked up his maturity, talent, and grasp of the pro game. Leatherwood has been described as a “veteran” by Jon Gruden and while that may have been coach-speak to hype up a young player, he has been praised by neutral parties as well.
Leatherwood has some big shoes to fill on the offensive line as he replaces Pro Bowler Trent Brown but if he is simply out there for all 16 games he will already be half as good. Brown was notorious for being out of shape and was often injured so if Leatherwood can stay healthy and available that will be a victory for this team.
We saw on many occasions when subpar players like Sam Young or Brandon Parker were at the RT spot the offense struggled to hold up in protection and the run game especially suffered. The Raiders will need Leatherwood to live up to his draft position and play at the level they expect of him for this offense to truly succeed.