Las Vegas Raiders giving up on former top pick Alex Leatherwood?

NFL waiver claims, Alex Leatherwood - Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
NFL waiver claims, Alex Leatherwood - Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

The Las Vegas Raiders raised eyebrows when they selected OL Alex Leatherwood in the 2021 NFL Draft with the 17th pick overall. There is speculation that the Raiders may be moving on from Leatherwood this week.

Former Raiders general manager Mike Mayock made his last first-round selection in 2021 picking Alabama OT Alex Leatherwood with the 17th pick. This pick was a surprise to many and was met with a substantial amount of skepticism and critique. The skepticism turned out to be accurate as Leatherwood started the 2021 season at right tackle and was moved to right guard shortly after due to inconsistent performances.

Leatherwood ranked near the bottom of all offensive linemen in pass protection, recording the third worst pass blocking grade by a tackle last season with a grade of 31.3. Leatherwood is a different player when it comes to run blocking however keeping Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on his feet is his main job.

The Raiders’ offense is slated to be a top 5 unit however the strength of the offensive line is crucial for that to happen. ESPN’S NFL insider, Jeremy Fowler, reported on the Bart & Hahn radio show that Leatherwood is on the chopping block…

Leatherwood is reportedly plummeting down the depth chart as a right tackle behind Jermaine Eluemunor and is taking second-team reps. Additionally, right tackle options with rookie Thayer Munford and Brandon Parker are unavailable due to injury but would likely be dropping Leatherwood even further down the chart.

Trading Leatherwood seems unlikely due to his fully guaranteed contract ($14 million) unless the Raiders would be willing to pay a portion of his contract with the transaction. Leatherwood being cut also seems unlikely as the roster cut would result in $11 million dollars in dead cap, which hardly makes sense for the Raiders as they are already eating $14 million dollars in guaranteed money.

Leatherwood will likely remain on the team as a backup right guard or right tackle but the Raiders seeking trade partners makes the message clear; the new regime in Las Vegas wants to move on. Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler is slowly phasing out all of the picks made by Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock and it appears Leatherwood may be among them soon enough.