Las Vegas Raiders: Can the 2021 class change the negative narrative?
By Brad Weiss
The 2023 Las Vegas Raiders are looking to rebound from a down 2022 campaign, and the 2021 draft class will be in the spotlight all season long.
After holding five first-round picks between the 2019 and 2020 NFL Drafts, the Raiders franchise went into the 2021 NFL Draft holding only one. The Silver and Black were coming off an 8-8 season in 2020, and would hold the No. 17 overall pick, a pick they would use on the 2020 Outland Trophy winner, Alex Leatherwood from Alabama.
For most scouts, Leatherwood was seen as a fringe first-round pick, and was likely slated to be selected on Day 2. However, Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden loved their Alabama Crimson Tide players, and made the surprising selection at No. 17, a pick that would prove to be a real mistake from the get-go.
Leatherwood was inserted as the starting right tackle as a rookie, much like Kolton Miller was on the left side after being drafted in the first round back in 2018. Miller struggled as a rookie, and so did Leatherwood, but the organization was not willing to wait for him to turn things around, and he was moved inside as a rookie, and then released after one season with the team.
The pick of Leatherwood was a bad one, but can the rest of the 2021 class change the narrative surrounding the group selected by Mayock and Gruden that year?