Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Raiders waiving Alex Leatherwood: Las Vegas cutting 2021 first-round pick after failing to find trade partner

USA Today

The Raiders are waiving former first-round offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, according to ESPN and confirmed by CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones. Leatherwood, the 17th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has been rumored to be waived or traded for weeks.

Leatherwood was moved from tackle to guard during his rookie season. New Raiders coach Josh McDaniels gave Leatherwood another chance at right tackle this offseason, but he fell behind Brandon Parker and rookie Thayer Munford during training camp. Injuries to both players, however, led to Leatherwood getting the start for the Raiders’ second preseason game against the Dolphins. But he was benched after giving up a sack and played behind Jermaine Eluemunor during the team’s joint practices with New England last week.

Leatherwood’s technique, according to four-time Pro Bowl tackle Mitchell Schwartz, is one of the reasons why the former Alabama standout has struggled to have success at the NFL level. 

“(Leatherwood’s) biggest mechanical problem is he punches too low,” Schwartz told Ted Nguyen of The Athletic. “When the defender does anything to his right arm, he’s got no leverage and no pressure going upwards. It makes him top heavy, and he’s susceptible to falling on his face.”

While he has struggled to find his footing, Leatherwood’s age (23) and untapped potential could lead to interest from NFL teams. He was a unanimous All-American during his final season at Alabama while becoming program’s fifth Outland Trophy winner and fourth since 2008. His play helped Alabama capture a national title while playing alongside future NFL starters Mac Jones, Najee Harris, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle.

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