The Las Vegas Raiders received their fair share of criticism for taking Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
There is no question that the Raiders still had some notable voids to fill along the offensive long following their fire sale up front this offseason. However, there is speculation that general manager Mike Mayock and head Coach Jon Gruden may have once again reached with their first-round pick.
It is safe to say that Leatherwood has heard all the doubts regarding his status as the team’s first pick in the draft. Fortunately, the rookie is doing what he can to turn it into motivation.
Leatherwood has promised Raider Nation that he is ready to prove himself by any means in a video posted online by the team:
“Raider Nation, you guys will get an offensive lineman who will work his ass off to any means necessary for this team and this organization and you will not be disappointed — I promise you that,” Leatherwood said.
It is encouraging to see that Leatherwood is not letting all the talk get to his head before even taking his first snap in the NFL. Of course, only time will tell whether the pick will be vindicated.
Leatherwood has some big shoes to fill following the departure of right tackle Trent Brown this offseason. If he can prove to be a viable contingency option as a rookie, it will not be long before his selection is justified.
Of course, there is still plenty of work to do for Leatherwood if he hopes to make his mark on the franchise as soon as possible. Las Vegas has high hopes for a playoff berth next season, and the last thing they need is another setback at such a crucial position for quarterback Derek Carr.