Raiders: Reviewing the options at the right tackle position
The first option is the most probable one, being second-year player Alex Leatherwood.
Leatherwood was drafted to be the team’s right tackle of the future, but his struggles forced previous head coach Jon Gruden to shift the Alabama lineman to [right] guard. At guard, Leatherwood continued his development, increasing his blocking production and limiting rookie mistakes. Perhaps most impressively, Leatherwood rallied alongside Brandon Parker, who struggled all year.
If Leatherwood wants to take the keys at right tackle back, which he’ll have a chance to do, he has to be better than he was his rookie season. Last year, the ’21 first-round pick allowed 8 sacks while committing 14 penalties, earning him a PFF grade of 45. Leatherwood helped contribute to an offensive line that was ranked in the bottom five.
There’s no real reason to assume Leatherwood won’t continue to take steps forward. After all, the 312lb lineman has taken steps forward on a week-to-week basis and has seemingly never looked back. Whether at guard or tackle, Leatherwood will start this season. The question is – Can the 17th overall pick last year bring the skills he molded at guard back to right tackle? The answer is to be determined.