“I just don’t understand why nobody talks about this guy.” - Former NFL linebacker Ben Leber on Alabama left tackle Alex Leatherwood.
If you’re wary about the selection of Leatherwood at 17 by the Las Vegas Raiders, then it’s possible that the grade given to him by a former Vikings linebacker in the 2000s won’t matter to you. “What does he know about playing tackle?”
Fair enough. I can’t argue that Ben Leber is getting the same amount of draft respect as Daniel Jeremiah or Todd McShay or any of the people who are famously associated with analyzing and rating NFL prospects. But being famous for it and being good at it are two different things.
I know that Leber isn’t famous for draft analysis, but I do think that he is good at it. And Ben Leber had Alex Leatherwood as his number three offensive lineman in the 2021 NFL Draft. To Ben Leber, drafting Leatherwood at 17 is not a reach and is entirely appropriate given the All-American play he had at both right guard and left tackle for the Crimson Tide.
I really enjoyed learning about the offensive line prospects this year from Leber’s Wide 9 Entertainment channel and there were two rankings he had that went far against the grain: USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker was his number one offensive lineman in the draft (which really shouldn’t be that controversial given that Penei Sewell did take a whole year off) and that he had Leatherwood as his number three.
Why? He explains that Leatherwood’s footwork is “like a dancing bear” and that it is tremendous, with great balance and smooth movement, strong hands, strong acan dominate in the run game against both defensive tackles and defensive ends. He does struggle against speed rushers and some players can slip through his blocks at time.
I recommend watching the whole 4:42 below to get to know what it is that Leber loves so much about Leatherwood.
Leber notes some of the second-level blocking issues that might have caused Leatherwood to slide in the eyes of some analysts, but he sees enough to have the Alabama star ranked over Rashawn Slater, Christian Darrisaw, and every other tackle in the draft other than Sewell.
You got what you wished for, Ben. People are talking about Alex Leatherwood.