The Las Vegas Raiders put the finishing touches on assembling their new offensive line by taking Alabama tackle Alex Leatherwood with the No. 17th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The move drew its fair share of criticism after many felt that the Raiders reached for Leatherwood in the first round. The rookie will have a chance to vindicate that pick by establishing himself as a viable replacement for tackle Trent Brown up front.
Leatherwood has made it clear that all the talk has not gone unnoticed. He is even admittedly anxious to prove the doubters wrong with his play next season.
There is no question that Leatherwood boasts an impressive resume following a stellar career at Alabama. Defensive end Clelin Ferrell feels this pedigree has made him more pro-ready than many would believe.
“Humble kid. I like the idea that he just come in and go to work,” Ferrell said. “So, I think him coming from Alabama and me coming from Clemson, I think one of the biggest things he learned is he already kind of knew how to conduct himself like a pro. So, he already practices in a manner to where he knows the tempo, he’s not really overwhelmed with too much of the plays. I know he had some mistakes, but I think the biggest thing is that he kind of came in with like a pro mentality. Not very young and naïve, and if he does something wrong his head isn’t down, he’s kind of on to the next play already. So, I think that early mindset is going to be good for him because as we all know one of the hardest things to come in and do is play right tackle, or especially left tackle in the league, so I think he’s got a good mindset so far, so early on.”
Guard Richie Incognito doubled down on Leatherwood’s approach in letting his game speak for itself.
“Yeah, he’s a big body,” Incognito said. “He comes from a storied program at Alabama, and he’s done a ton of winning, a couple national championships under his belt. He’s a quiet kid. I texted with him a little bit after he got drafted and things have been so hectic here just getting back and getting into some things. But he’s quiet, he’s a hard worker. He’s picking up on what Coach Cable is laying down and I expect him to have a big year.”
It is safe to say that Leatherwood has wasted no time making a positive impression on his new teammates. The fact that he is seemingly getting well-acquainted with Incognito and Ferrell is a positive sign that he is settling in nicely.
The Raiders understandably have high expectations for Leatherwood’s ability to fill a glaring void up front. He seems to be well aware that the only way to quell any doubt cast on his status as a first-round is by having his play do the talking.