The Raiders have made plenty of puzzling draft picks during Jon Gruden’s tenure, but selecting Alex Leatherwood in Round 1 might top them all.
Alex Leatherwood will almost certainly be a starter when the Raiders begin their 2021 regular season. That doesn’t change the fact that selecting him in Round 1 of the NFL Draft was a poor use of resources by one of the NFL’s weakest front offices.
The Raiders believed they needed to snap Leatherwood up at No. 17 to stop the Ravens from nabbing him later in Round 1. According to Peter King, that thought process simply doesn’t hold water. He asserts that Baltimore had a third round grade on the former Alabama offensive lineman and was no threat at all to take him in the first round.
Las Vegas isn’t the first team to fall victim to this sort of draft subterfuge, but reaching for Leatherwood only strengthens the argument that the Raiders’ front office has a poor handling of the landscape of the modern NFL.
The team has repeatedly defied conventional league wisdom to overdraft players they believed were ideal fits for their scheme in recent seasons. Recent high draft picks like Clelin Ferrell, Damon Arnette, and Johnathan Abram have all struggled to justify their draft slot for the Raiders during Gruden’s tenure.
The Raiders may have been duped into drafting Alex Leatherwood by the Ravens
It’s somewhat admirable for a front office to trust their board over the rest of the league, but that doesn’t change the reality that the Raiders should have been able to trade down and acquire more assets without sacrificing the chance to draft Leatherwood. That’s the real sin of this pick for Las Vegas.
Gruden’s roster isn’t certainly blessed with so much talent that it could not have benefited from another rookie or two in this year’s draft class. A host of teams might have been interested in trading up to No. 17 to land an offensive skill player or edge rusher. Instead, the Raiders squandered the opportunity and stood pat to land a guy that many scouts believe will end up as a guard at the professional level.
Leatherwood might develop into a decent starter for the Raiders, but that won’t make drafting him at No. 17 a success. This one goes down as a massive missed opportunity for a franchise in need of acquiring as much talent as possible. Credit the Ravens for getting one over on Las Vegas.