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Raiders roster cuts: Alex Leatherwood waived

Leatherwood was the No. 17 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
Alex Leatherwood leaves the field for the last time as a Raider on Saturday
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The troubling first-round drafting of the previous Raiders’ regime took another major hit on Tuesday when the team’s new brass said goodbye to another top pick of Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock era.

ESPN reported that the Raiders are waiving offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood. He was the No. 17 overall draft pick in 2021.

While there have been reports about Leatherwood’s possible release in recent days and he struggled badly in the preseason, it is still a stunning development. Prior to the start of training camp, there was little indication that the new coaching staff had soured this badly on the Alabama product. The question was if he was going to be a tackle or a guard, not if he wasn’t going to make the 53-man roster.

But once the practice work started, it was clear Leatherwood was not a great fit for Josh McDaniels’ offense. Jermaine Eluemunor and Thayer Minford are the top options at right tackle and with Munford hurt, Eluemunor is the likely starter Week 1 at the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders could also add to the position.

Leatherwood started his rookie season at right tackle, but then moved to guard after he struggled at tackle. He did start all 17 games last season. He was widely considered a major reach and clearly McDaniels and new Raiders’ general manager Dave Ziegler were part of the crowd that wasn’t high on Leatherwood.

This move continues a horrible trend. The Raiders had two first-round picks in 2020, receiver Henry Ruggs and cornerback Damon Arnette, are both off the roster because of off-field issues. The new Las Vegas regime declined the fifth-year options on the team’s three 2019 first-round picks, defensive end Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs and safety Johnathan Abram. They are all free agents after this season. The only first-round pick of Gruden’s seven first rounders that worked out was left tackle Kolton Miller.

Also on Tuesday, 2019 second-round pick Trayvon Mullen was traded to Arizona.

Reportedly, the Raiders tried to trade Leatherwood, but there were no takers. It would be a surprise if he is claimed because of his contract. If not, the Raiders will be on the hook for $7.8 million of dead salary-cap money this year.

Thus, it was another costly big decision by Gruden and Mayock.