Alex Leatherwood is impressing Jon Gruden and his teammates


Entering his first year in the NFL, Alex Leatherwood has a ton of expectations from coaches and his teammates around him. But that hasn’t stopped the 6-foot-6, 312-pound right tackle from showing what he can do early in camp. The reports coming out of camp are that the powerful run blocker has a sharp football mind.

“Alex Leatherwood, very intelligent guy. He’s picked it up very quickly,” Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson said. “We’ve probably installed over 400 plays in two days and very limited mental reps. We had him in rookie camp for three days, and [he had] very few if any mental errors.”

The Raiders need Alex Leatherwood to be a long-term, reliable solution at right tackle. The Trent Brown experiment obviously didn’t work. Between his off-field weight gain and inability to stay healthy, the Raiders quickly cut ties with Brown after giving him $36.75 million in guaranteed money, trading him back to the New England Patriots.

Great technique and mental processing are paramount for a young offensive tackle. In college, Leatherwood’s film shows a player that can do both at a very high level. Brandon Thorn, on his Inside the Trenches film breakdown, said, “After listening to him break down some of his tape, you start to understand just how gifted he is as a player while gaining valuable insight into his process both in the pre-and post-snap phases of the game.”

When Leatherwood was asked about how he practices mimicking a live game, Leatherwood said, “Basically in practice, trying to be detailed in my technique. Although we don’t have on pads, you still have to hit your landmarks. Take the right steps, good hand placements. Things like that. If you rep those things, it’ll carry over, no matter if you’re in pads or not.”

If Leatherwood can live up to expectations, the Raiders should be set at both tackle positions as they gave Kolton Miller a three-year extension following the 2020 season, locking him up for the next five years. As Jon Gruden says, the best ability is availability. Kolton Miller has been consistent, and clearly, Gruden values how consistent Leatherwood has been throughout his college career.

“A lot of guys got drafted ahead of him that didn’t even play this year. This guy played 15 games and won a national title,” said Jon Gruden during Saturday’s presser. “This is one of the most decorated offensive linemen to come out of college football, ever. He blocked for Tua. He blocked for another first-rounder next year. He’s got plus eight length. If you measure his width and his height, he’s 8 inches longer than tall, and that’s a huge trait for the tackles we look for.”

Teammates taking notice

The Raider’s right side of the offensive line is newly built. Their best offensive linemen Denzelle Good, who is projected to start at right guard next to Alex Leatherwood, has been very impressed with the young tackle.

“I’m very impressed,” Good said. “He’s super athletic. His mental game, he’s always working to improve something. He’s always communicating with me about what he can do better. Sometimes I have to remind him, ‘You don’t have to do everything; everything ain’t on you. I’m here, I’ve got your back, we’ve all got your back.’ I really like him. He’s a good guy.”

Good isn’t the only player who has taken notice of the tackle. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue spoke very highly of Leatherwood’s ability to move. “I can tell he’s going to be a stud. I like his feet. I like his movement. I like his hands. Also, he looks versatile. He looks like a guy who can play tackle. He can swing down to the guard. He just has the build and the footwork to do that. I love what I’m seeing from him.”

Scouts had mixed reviews when the Raiders picked him in the first round. But Mike Mayock has spoken multiple times about how he was their highest player on the board at that time, and Leatherwood was Offensive Line Coach Tom Cable’s guy. If there is one thing we know about Cable, it’s that he knows offensive linemen. Leatherwood should be able to have a good NFL career.

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