It has become a yearly NFL draft first-round tradition. Once again, the Raiders made a pick and television analysts at NFL Network and ESPN look dumbfounded.
This time it was a real doozy, however.
In the first real shocking choice in the first round of the draft by any team, the Las Vegas Raiders selected Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood. He will take over for Trent Brown (who was traded to the New England Patriots) at right tackle.
With the No. 17 overall pick in the 2021 @NFLDraft, the @Raiders select OL Alex Leatherwood!— NFL (@NFL) April 30, 2021
: 2021 #NFLDraft on NFLN/ESPN/ABC pic.twitter.com/NZ59FqMSvH
Leatherwood was not expected to be a first-round pick ... he was predicted to go in the second or third round. The NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah — a close friend of Las Vegas general manager Mike Mayock — said he had Leatherwood, who won the Outland Award for the best college offensive lineman during the season for what’s that worth, ranked as his 62nd best player on the draft board.
Leatherwood joins Clelin Ferrell (No. 4 in 2019) and Damon Arnette (No. 19 in 2020) as shocking Raiders’ reaches in the Jon Gruden-Mayock era.
Here’s some thoughts on the pick:
Better players on the board:
Is Leatherwood really better than Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw or Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins? Apparently the Raiders think so. He better be or this will be another long-talked about high Raiders’ pick. There were no defensive players available worth taking???
A trade down wasn’t possible?
There were zero trade downs available? Really?!? Get some value and then take Leatherwood down the line. He was likely not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s a total misuse of draft power.
Raiders love their ‘Bama players:
The streak continues. The Raiders took Crimson Tide running back Josh Jacobs at No. 24 in 2019. They took Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III at No. 12 last year and now Leatherwood. Surely, they will add another Clemson player as well.
Keep an open mind on Leatherwood:
Expect an onslaught of “F” grades on this pick. But the Raiders believe in him, so let’s see ... perhaps Leatherwood will make the Raiders look smart. Still, it looks like an unnecessary pick at No. 17.
What’s the O-line looking like:
The Raiders traded Brown, center Rodney Hudson and guard Gabe Jackson. Now, the line looks like: Andre James at center, Richie Incognito and Denzelle Good at guard, Kolton Miller and Leatherwood at tackle.
Is it good enough? It better be.
Did they keep up with the AFC West?
The Denver Broncos took star cornerback Patrick Surtain at No. 9. The Los Angeles Chargers got a great steal in tackle Rashawn Slater at No. 13 and the Kansas City Chiefs got Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown for the No. 31 pick. And the Raiders got a reach. OK.