Raiders should’ve exercised more patience with Alex Leatherwood
Rushing to judgment?
It’s certainly a fair point that Dave Ziegler and Co. owed zero allegiance to Leatherwood or any of Gruden’s picks. When a new administration comes in, they often simply take the best players in-house and begin to put a name on the organization by bringing in players that fill their mold. Just look at what they did with the running back group. They moved on from Kenyan Drake and completely revamped the entire corps.
Why couldn’t they have done that with Leatherwood? Brandon Parker’s injury threw things for a loop, and no one saw Lester Cotton Sr. playing his heart out to get a roster spot. Nevertheless, you can adapt and not let a first-round pick from just a year ago go to waste. Here’s one scenario: Jermaine Eluemunor is your right tackle (this year), Cotton inside, with Leatherwood behind them. Is it optimal? Yes, it is. You’re putting the two best players out there.
Leatherwood needed to regain his confidence after a dreadful preseason performance. Again, though, he was forced out there to play a position he simply couldn’t play.
As The Athletic’s Tashan Reed mentioned, it’s obvious that Leatherwood fell out of favor. Just imagine McDaniels and Carmen Bricillo throwing their hands up in despair and saying they’ve seen enough. At the same time, whose fault was that? He had legitimate talent, as Reed also pointed out. He was a five-star recruit that was graded as a first or second-round pick at worst.