Las Vegas Raiders review: Grading the 2021 draft class
Round 1, Pick: 17: Alex Leatherwood, OT
The Raiders used their first pick of the draft to bolster up the offensive line with the selection of Alex Leatherwood out of Alabama. While it was not surprising that the front office went offensive line in the first after saying goodbye to Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, and Trent Brown in the offseason, it was surprising that Alex Leatherwood was the specific player they chose.
Even before the draft, Leatherwood was being talked about as a better fit at guard than at tackle, and he, of course, eventually did get pushed inside after four weeks of struggle at the right tackle spot.
Using a first-round pick on an eventual guard for a team with the holes the Raiders had is not a winning strategy. While every position on the offensive line is important, it is not hard to find solid guards in free agency or later in the draft. That isn’t to say it is never a good decision to go with a guard in the first round, but as I said, the Raiders weren’t in a position for that to be the right move, and plus he was drafted to be a tackle in the first place.
Leatherwood finished the season with a 44.9 grade per PFF, which shows in the mostly poor performances he had throughout the season. His pressure rate allowed was 9.2% which is the 4th worst in the NFL, he gave up 8 sacks which is the 2nd most in the NFL, and Derek Carr threw for the most yards under pressure in the entire NFL, which goes to show how bad the offensive line was in general (and that Carr can get it done under pressure as well of course).
But it wasn’t just in the blocking department that he struggled, he was also a penalty machine. In 18 games this season Leatherwood committed 14 penalties which put him tied at 3rd place for the most among all NFL offensive linemen
So far it seems like Leatherwood is to be added to the list of one of Gruden and Mayock’s famous 1st round reaches in the same vein as Damon Arnette and Clelin Ferrell in previous years, but he is still young and can hopefully develop into at least a decent starter.
- Performance Grade: F
- Pick Grade: F