Doug Kyed, an NFL insider for Pro Football Focus, thinks the Las Vegas Raiders could part ways with former first-round draft pick Alex Leatherwood before the season even starts.
Leatherwood was drafted by the Raiders with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The former Alabama standout played in all 17 games for Las Vegas last season.
We said potential surprise trade or cut candidates, right? It ultimately would be surprising to see Las Vegas part ways with Leatherwood so early into his NFL career, but one league source believes it’s at least a possibility.
Leatherwood was the 17th overall pick last spring, but he was taken by former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock. Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler, respectively, are in those roles now, and they’re not tied to past selections from the former brain trust.
Leatherwood isn’t currently starting for the Raiders in training camp, and he was actually benched during Las Vegas’ preseason game against the Dolphins. He’s played into the second half of each of the Raiders’ past two preseason games, and perhaps there could still be a team interested enough to trade for him in the second year of his rookie contract.
It’s hard for me to see the Raiders moving on from their 2021 first-round pick after just one season. I know the current regime didn’t draft him, but that would still seem extreme to give up on a guy after one year in the NFL.
Leatherwood, however, does need to improve if he’s going to play an important role for Las Vegas. He didn’t look good at all in the Raiders’ recent preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. According to PFF, Leatherwood gave up five pressures and had a pass-blocking grade in the 40s. He’s done well in run-blocking, but his pass-blocking has left a lot to be desired.
Perhaps Leatherwood moves to guard. He’s worked there some and while he would need to improve, it could be a better long-term option for him than tackle.
Leatherwood has too much talent to give up on him this quickly. The Raiders would be wise to show some patience and see if Leatherwood can become a dependable starting offensive lineman.
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