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One of the most controversial picks of the entire draft came at No. 17. Needing a right tackle, the Raiders selected Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood, who played most of his career at left tackle.
According to most draftniks and experts, they believe the Raiders reached on Leatherwood by an entire round. Others believed that he should have been picked in the late-20s or early 30s, rather than at No. 17. But that’s not the opinion of everyone around league circles.
In a recent article by Mike Sando of The Athletic, he had various NFL decision-makers and executives comment on each team’s draft class. When it came to the Raiders, former NFL GM Randy Mueller was actually very complimentary of their class, saying that Leatherwood wasn’t a reach at all.
In fact, he would have had no problem if a team would have selected Leatherwood inside the top 10. Here is a snippet of his comments:
“I have seen some places that have him as their 8th or 10th tackle. That is crazy. I saw Leatherwood at the end of the season against top talent, and I’d have no problem picking him in the first round and no problem picking him in the top 10.”
Leatherwood does check nearly every box that you would want in a starting right tackle. He has a ton of experience playing in the SEC. He made starts at both tackle and guard and you can watch him face the nation’s top pass rushers week after week. On top of his experience, he has outstanding size, length and athleticism. Of all the tackles drafted in the top-100, no player has his combination of athleticism and arm length.
As Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden stated post-draft, they aren’t interested in winning any offseason awards. Instead, they just want to build the best team possible. Leatherwood allows them to do so as he is a perfect fit with offensive line coach Tom Cable.
Don’t be surprised if Leatherwood not only surprises people in 2021, but outperforms his draft position. He is clearly talented and is a fantastic scheme fit in Gruden’s offense.
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