Friday night’s preseason game between the Raiders and Patriots is certainly more than an exhibition game for Las Vegas right tackle Alex Leatherwood. NFL teams believe that the Raiders may either release or trade the former first-round pick, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, but Las Vegas will evaluate Friday’s game before making any big moves.
Leatherwood was moved from tackle to guard during his rookie season. New Raiders coach Josh McDaniels gave Leatherwood another chance at right tackle this offseason, but he fell behind Brandon Parker and rookie Thayer Munford during training camp. Injuries to both players, however, led to Leatherwood getting the start for the Raiders’ second preseason game against the Dolphins. But he was benched after giving up a sack and played behind Jermaine Eluemunor during the team’s joint practices with New England this past week.
“(Leatherwood’s) biggest mechanical problem is he punches too low,” Schwartz told Ted Nguyen of The Athletic. “When the defender does anything to his right arm, he’s got no leverage and no pressure going upwards. It makes him top heavy, and he’s susceptible to falling on his face.”
While he has struggled to find his footing, Leatherwood’s age (23) and untapped potential will surely lead to interest from NFL teams should the Raiders decide to part ways with him. He was a unanimous All-American during his final season at Alabama while becoming program’s fifth Outland Trophy winner and fourth since 2008. His play helped Alabama capture a national title while playing alongside future NFL starters Mac Jones, Najee Harris, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle.