The Las Vegas Raiders once again made headlines with a surprising pick by taking Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood at No. 17 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
General manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden have made it clear that their criteria for grading draft picks is quite different from most teams. This has led to criticism regarding their supposed habit of reaching for players like defensive end Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall in 2019 or making Henry Ruggs III the first receiver off the board in one of the deepest drafts at the position last year.
The selection of Leatherwood has now been dubbed as the latest in a saga of questionable picks for the pairing of Mayock and Gruden. However, it seems they are confident that their due diligence helped avert a potential disaster on their end.
Mayock revealed that the Raiders did indeed field a trade offer to move back in the first round, but the prospect of losing out on Leatherwood to a tackle-hungry team prevented him from pulling the trigger, via ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez.
“Just when we got on the clock a team did call us and inquired about moving up but they gave us a very poor trade offer and it was a team that needed a tackle,” Mayock said. “So the combination of the poor offer and their need kind of pushed us away from that. There’s a risk/reward scenario and, in this case, we didn’t feel that it was worth it.”
Christian Darrisaw was the only other offensive tackle to go in the first round behind Leatherwood after the Minnesota Vikings picked him up with the No. 23. Teven Jenkins was the next tackle taken in the second round at No. 39 overall, and the Raiders would soon trade up five spots to draft safety Trevon Moehrig at No. 43.
Many feel a swap of the team’s first and second-round picks would have drawn praise for Las Vegas, given Moehrig’s status as perhaps the best safety in the draft. However, it appears Mayock’s intuition may have prevented the Raiders from having their cake and eating it too.
Regardless, it is evident that Las Vegas has high hopes that Leatherwood will fill a much-needed void along the offensive line. While the track record between Mayock and Gruden’s first-round picks leave much to be desired, the rookie will have an opportunity to quickly vindicate the pick as an immediate solution up front.