What NFL Draft experts are saying about Raiders selection of OT Alex Leatherwood at No. 17

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Levi Damien
·5 min read
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After months and months of waiting, the Raiders finally have a draft class. As do the rest of the NFL’s teams. Their first pick was the most controversial, with Mike Mayock even saying he expected his picked to be panned.

“We knew it would be controversial – completely understand that,” said Mayock about the selection of Leatherwood.

Mayock said it was the reaction from the analysts immediately following the pick that he was talking about, but it was clear he knew before they made the pick what the reaction would be.

So, what have the analysts said of the pick since the draft ended? Let’s take a look.

Arif Hasan, The Athletic

Consensus big board ranking of 45

The Raiders had the single-biggest value loss of the draft with Alabama tackle Alex Leatherwood and that pick comprises a significant part of the reason they ended up on the bottom of the list.

Luke Easterling, Draft Wire

Grade: C-

Offensive line definitely made sense after the Raiders got rid of most of their starters this offseason, but the one they picked makes about as much sense as the decision to let those starters go. Leatherwood has experience at both guard and tackle against top competition, but there were better offensive line prospects still on the board here.

Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Grade: D

I had Leatherwood as my 10th-ranked offensive tackle, and he would have been about my third or fourth guard. I’m not surprised that the Raiders went with a project after trading away most of their offensive line in the offseason — line coach Tom Cable loves projects at the expense of his offenses — but this it a real head-scratcher.

Chad Reuter, NFL.com

Grade: B+

I graded Leatherwood as a late first-round pick, so the Raiders’ selection of him with the 17th overall choice was a bit surprising, but not a shock. We’ll see if the more highly-graded tackle Christian Darrisaw (who went to the Vikings at No. 23) becomes a better player over time.

Danny Kelly, The Ringer

Grade: C-

This pick fills an obvious need for the Raiders, who offloaded multiple starting linemen this offseason. Leatherwood brings positional versatility, with the blocking chops to man either tackle or guard spot, but I don’t love the value for Las Vegas. I thought Leatherwood, who is my 42nd-ranked player, had a chance of sneaking into the end of the first round but didn’t expect that he’d go quite this high. For GM Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden, this pick is another in a long line of perceived reaches. They better hope the former Crimson Tide lineman outplays expectations.

Vic Tafur, The Athletic

Grade: C

Leatherwood was durable in college, having started 41 games — 26 at left tackle and 15 at right guard. A former five-star recruit, he never quite put it all together, but L

eatherwood (6-foot-5, 312) has size and athleticism. Having said that, it’s fair to question the value here.

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had Leatherwood as his 34th-ranked prospect. Daniel Jeremiah said on NFL Network’s broadcast that he had Leatherwood ranked 62nd. Maybe they didn’t get a great offer, but it seems like the Raiders’ best bet would have been to trade back, acquire additional draft capital and take Leatherwood later.

Pro Football Focus

The Las Vegas Raiders have a glaring need at right tackle and made a point to revamp their offensive line this offseason, but there won’t be many who have Alex Leatherwood ranked ahead of Christian Darrisaw and a few others still on the board. Leatherwood comes from a blue-blood program, and that may be coveted more than usual in this unique draft, but he was the No. 9-ranked tackle on PFF’s Big Board and had major issues in pass protection.

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

Leatherwood was a big-time reach vs. edge or outside linebacker help.

Mel Kiper, ESPN

So they surprised me again on Thursday, taking Alex Leatherwood (17) a full round ahead of where I had graded him. I’m not sold on him being able to hold up as the run tackle, where the Raiders want to play him (he played left tackle and right guard at Bama). I thought maybe he’d have to move to guard. If there’s one thing I know about Gruden after working with him on the draft for several years, it’s that he likes football guys. Players who eat, sleep and breathe football, and tough players who will set the tone. Leatherwood eliminates defenders in the run game, but he needs to move his feet better as a pass protector. There were better offensive linemen on the board, and Teven Jenkins had experience at right tackle.

Jordan Heck, Sporting News

Worst value pick in the draft

Leatherwood mostly played left tackle at Alabama, and Kolton Miller has that job already for Las Vegas. So Leatherwood will likely need to move to guard, which he did play a bit at Alabama; but it makes the selection even more confusing. Walder’s draft projection said there was a 69 percent chance that Leatherwood was going to be available at pick No. 43 when the Raiders drafted next.

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