The Las Vegas Raiders have been in the national media for the right reasons this offseason. The main discussions have been Davante Adams, the league’s best receiver, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, and Derek Carr.

Now some other players are getting recognition. I don’t know if you would call it good or bad recognition, but they are being talked about, so in some way it’s good.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Raider’s 17th overall pick in 2021, Alex Leatherwood, was selected as the Raiders player with the most to prove this season, and they may have a valid point.

Raiders’ 2021 first-rounder has a lot to prove

Alex Leatherwood was selected 17th overall by the Raiders last season. He was selected that high because Las Vegas saw something in him, and I’m sure they still do. Here is what he did last season.

Leatherwood finished with the 14th most total snaps played with 1,104. He had the third-most penalties in the league (14) and allowed the second-most sacks with eight. He also allowed 17 quarterback hits and 65 total pressures on the year. These definitely do not look like the stats of a first-round pick. He did not have a good season and was a big part of the Raiders having one of the worst offensive lines in football last year.

So, it’s totally understandable why people think he has a lot to prove in 2022 and beyond. Even if he was drafted way higher than anticipated.

Here is what Doug Kyed of PFF thinks regarding Leatherwood:

“Leatherwood was selected 17th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft but now isn’t guaranteed a starting spot in Las Vegas’ offense. He must earn that role and prove he was worth the first-round pick. The new regime in Las Vegas isn’t tied to Leatherwood, a Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock pick, but one person within the organization was encouraged by his progress this offseason. Leatherwood was selected 17th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft but now isn’t guaranteed a starting spot in Las Vegas’ offense. He must earn that role and prove he was worth the first-round pick. The new regime in Las Vegas isn’t tied to Leatherwood, a Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock pick, but one person within the organization was encouraged by his progress this offseason.”

The Raiders expected more of him, despite it being his first year. If they thought otherwise, they would not have spent a high draft pick on him. They think he can play up to that level.

As for Leatherwood and what he has to prove, it’s that he was worth that draft pick. Now he has to prove to everyone that he isn’t a bust and that he deserved to be drafted that high. It sucks, but that is the reality of the NFL. Even if you can argue he was overdrafted, to begin with.

Think Cole Strange and the New England Patriots this year. Strange was great in college and should be a good player in the NFL, but the Patriots did him zero favors by drafting him in the first round. He was considered by many to be a third-rounder. Now, he has to live up to first round expectations, even though he shouldn’t.

I agree with Kyed selecting Leatherwood as the player with the most to prove. If you look at his stats, and what he accomplished last year, he was expected to be on a different trajectory. Leatherwood needs a great season, maybe more than any other Raider. Especially if he wants a chance at getting his fifth-year option picked up down the road. Luckily for him, he had a solid Hall of Fame game, and we have heard nothing but good things so far during training camp.

You can read the rest of the PFF article here.

Featured image via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports