Alex Leatherwood

Alex Leatherwood On Bears’ Roster Bubble

Since the Raiders received considerable criticism for drafting Alex Leatherwood in the 2021 first round, the young offensive lineman has been unable to carve out a steady role for either of his two NFL teams. The second of those looks to be considering moving on early as well.

After the Raiders found no takers for Leatherwood’s first-round contract last summer, the Bears claimed it through waivers. The Alabama product remains attached to that deal, but the Bears may not have a roster spot for the third-year blocker. Leatherwood is on the Bears’ roster bubble, with the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs noting a place on the 53-man squad should not be considered secure.

[RELATED: WR Velus Jones On Chicago’s Bubble?]

Leatherwood, however, is still in the mix for one of the team’s reserve O-line roles. The Bears have been active along their offensive front this offseason, adding four-year Titans starting guard Nate Davis and using the No. 10 overall pick on Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright. Davis is ticketed to be Chicago’s right guard, while Courtney Cronin of notes Wright has been working as the team’s starting right tackle this offseason. Wright spent more time at right tackle than on the left side with the Volunteers, making for an easier transition as a pro.

Demoted right tackle Larry Borom has operated as the Bears’ swingman behind Wright and left tackle Braxton Jones this offseason, though Biggs adds no clear swing tackle is present just yet. Leatherwood will likely compete for that job in training camp. Backup guard Ja’Tyre Carter worked in with the first team during offseason practices as well during OTAs and minicamp; the Bears chose Carter in last year’s seventh round. Leatherwood has seen time at guard and tackle as a pro but has not been able to catch on at either post.

Jon Gruden‘s staff moved Leatherwood to guard early in his rookie season, and he started all 17 games. Those starts were not well reviewed, and Josh McDaniels‘ staff shifted Leatherwood back to right tackle last year. Despite the Raiders running into injury issues at that spot, they did not see enough from Leatherwood to carry his contract onto the 53-man roster. The Bears did not see much from Leatherwood last season, either. A mononucleosis bout led to Leatherwood’s placement on the reserve/non-football illness list in September. The Bears used last season as a developmental year, activating Leatherwood in late October but not using him in a game until December. Leatherwood totaled 32 offensive snaps last season.

Leatherwood, 24, is only attached to a $1.97MM cap number. It would cost the Bears more to remove the contract from their cap sheet, as a $4.5MM dead-money figure would arrive in that instance. If the Bears cut Leatherwood, only Wright would remain as a former first-round pick on Chicago’s O-line. Jones emerged out of last year’s fifth round, while left guard Teven Jenkins and center Cody Whitehair were second-rounders. The Titans chose Davis in the 2019 third round.

Latest On New Bears OL Alex Leatherwood

Chicago landed quite the haul in waiver claims last week. Perhaps the most intriguing of the six claims they made is former-Raiders offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood. After being selected 17th-overall in last year’s draft, the Alabama product failed to survive this year’s 53-man roster cuts, much to the benefit of the Bears’ offensive line group. 

The move could also benefit the 23-year-old, as well, as some in league circles see Chicago as a better scheme-fit for Leatherwood, according to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus. The improved fit doesn’t exactly mean that we can expect Leatherwood to become an immediate starter in Chicago, though.

The guard spots are currently manned by Cody Whitehair and Teven Jenkins. Rookie fifth-round pick Braxton Jones has exploded onto the scene and seized the starting job at left tackle, pushing Riley Reiff to right tackle and Larry Borom to the bench as a backup. So where exactly does Leatherwood fit into the picture?

To start his career with the Bears, Leatherwood has been practicing at right tackle, according to Adam Jahns of The Athletic. General manager Ryan Poles asserted that they expect to work Leatherwood at guard, too, though.

“We all believe in player development here, and we’ve put pieces in place to allow players to be their best selves,” Poles told reporters. “So we’re going to approach that in many different ways, and we’re going to give (Leatherwood) an opportunity to develop and grow. Forget the draft pick thing. That’s over. So let’s start from the ground floor. Let’s build you up and take your time and whatever that is, we want to put him in the best position to succeed.”

The good news for Leatherwood is that his versatility allows him more positions in which to find success. In college, Leatherwood began as the primary backup to starting left tackle Jonah Williams. Unable to keep him off the field, Nick Saban and company decided to start him at right guard as a sophomore. He moved back to left tackle for his junior and senior seasons winning the Outland Trophy as a senior. The Raiders attempted to start Leatherwood at tackle as a rookie but, after some persistent struggles, the team moved him inside to guard, where he started the remainder of the season.

It will likely be an adjustment for Leatherwood to be forced into a backup role, but the change may be just what he needs to develop and learn to play at the NFL level. And Chicago may be the perfect place for him to do so. The Bears are in a bit of a rebuilding stage and do not expect to be in contention enough to require immediate success out of Leatherwood. Additionally, we’ve seen very recent success stories of offensive line development from the Bears with young players like Jones and Jenkins making impressive progress in their short time with the team.

So this is where we’re at with Leatherwood: the second-year lineman has been given a second chance in a scheme better fit for him and on a roster that doesn’t pressure him for immediate success. Putting it all in this perspective makes it easy to see how the addition can be a win-win scenario for Leatherwood and the Bears.

Wednesday NFL Transactions: NFC North

Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These BearsLions, Packers and Vikings moves are noted below.

Here are Wednesday’s NFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Chicago Bears




Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Detroit Lions



Released from IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Green Bay Packers



Signed to practice squad:

Minnesota Vikings


Raiders To Waive OL Alex Leatherwood

The Raiders are bailing on the Alex Leatherwood experiment after one season. Despite going in the 2021 first round, Leatherwood will be waived Tuesday, Adam Schefter of tweets.

A surprise pick at the time, Leatherwood did not do much to impress either of the two Raiders regimes to come through during his time in Las Vegas. The Dave ZieglerJosh McDaniels regime will cut bait despite three seasons remaining on his rookie contract.

That contract will now turn into a big dead-money hit for the Raiders. By cutting Leatherwood before his second season, the Raiders will be tagged with more than $11MM in dead cap. While that can be spread through 2023, with $7.9MM staying on Vegas’ payroll this year, the defrayed signing bonus hits will lead to one of the bigger dead-cap hits on a rookie contract in recent memory. But the Raiders could not find a place for Leatherwood, after trying him at both tackle and guard.

All options were believed to be on the table with Leatherwood, whom the team attempted to trade. His 2021 performance, contract and perception as a first-round reach certainly impacted those efforts.

The Raiders quickly moved Leatherwood to right guard last season, and Pro Football Focus viewed the Alabama product as one of the league’s worst guard regulars. A move back to tackle did not take. Even after Brandon Parker was lost for the season in training camp, Leatherwood could not seize the gig.

Las Vegas’ O-line plan as a whole has been unusual throughout this offseason. With the exception of left tackle Kolton Miller, the Raiders bring question marks at their other spots. Although Andre James is fairly established at center, though his extension was authorized by the Jon Gruden regime, the team has glaring issues on the right side of its O-line. Ex-Patriot spot starter Jermaine Eluemunor has been a big factor at right tackle, while Lester Cotton — a UDFA who has played in five career games and never started any — has worked as the team’s starting right guard. The Raiders seem primed to scour the waiver wire in the coming hours.

Leatherwood’s departure obviously also shifts the spotlight back to the Gruden-Mike Mayock drafts. Leatherwood and 2020 first-round picks Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette are gone. Clelin Ferrell has long been shifted to a backup role, and his status with the Raiders is tenuous. The new Raiders front office also did not pick up the fifth-year options on fellow 2019 first-rounders Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram. After the team traded Reggie McKenzie-era first-rounders Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper and accumulated first-round capital, there is little to show for those moves.

Raiders Re-Sign OL Jermaine Eluemunor

After appearing in 14 games for the Raiders last season, offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor has agreed to return to Las Vegas, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. In a series of transactions heading into the weekend, the Raiders have made sure to bring back a proven backup lineman who could earn a starting spot. 

A fifth-round pick for the Ravens in 2017, Eluemunor had already traveled more than most draft prospects. Eluemunor was born in England, moving to New Jersey in his teenage years and finding football. After applying to around 120 schools, he earned a scholarship to Texas A&M before getting drafted to Baltimore.

Eluemunor had three starts in two seasons with the Ravens as a reserve lineman before being traded alongside a sixth-round pick to New England in exchange for a fourth-round pick. His first year as a Patriot was plagued with injury, but he was named the starting right tackle to start the 2020 NFL season. A Week 6 ankle injury landed Eluemunor on injured reserve, but he returned four weeks later to start four of the eight remaining games of the season.

A free agent after his stint in New England, Eluemunor signed with the Dolphins, getting cut before the season started. Four days later, he joined the Jaguars for a four-day period before getting cut yet again. Eluemunor wasn’t unemployed for long, though. Two days later, Eluemunor landed in Vegas.

An injury to Week 1 starter Denzelle Good elevated Eluemunor to first-string in a matchup versus his former team, the Ravens. Eluemunor, who had been with the team for only two weeks, made three more starts for Las Vegas before returning to his role as a backup and special teamer.

The Raiders return key contributors from last year Kolton Miller, John Simpson, Alex Leatherwood, and Andre James. Vegas has also re-signed back ups Jackson Barton and Brandon Parker, as well as recently signing Alex Bars, who started 11 games in three seasons with the Bears. Despite the addition of Bars, the Raiders have a ton of familiarity heading into 2022.

In contrast to the recent additions, Las Vegas has cut cornerback Jordan Brown, defensive end P.J. Johnson, offensive lineman William Sweet, safety Natrell Jamerson, and wide receiver Javon Wims.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Chiefs, Dupree, Weddle

First-round draft pick Alex Leatherwood had an up-and-down rookie season in Las Vegas. After struggling a bit at right tackle, Leatherwood was moved to guard to fill in after injuries to starters Richie Incognito and Denzelle Good. According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, the Raiders’ former staff intended to move Leatherwood back to his drafted position next season.

The decision is now out of their hands and in the hands of new offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo. With Kolton Miller set at left tackle and Andre James filling in admirably this season with the loss of center Rodney Hudson in a trade to the Cardinals last year, the Raiders have three offensive line spots with which to play around. Bricillo’s placement of Leatherwood will likely depend on how they choose to address those open positions.

Here are a few more notes from around the AFC, starting with another note from the West:

Raiders Shifting Alex Leatherwood To Guard?

The Raiders’ historic offensive pace slowed Monday night, and the team is looking into an interesting adjustment on its new-look offensive line.

First-round pick Alex Leatherwood worked at right guard Thursday, with former third-rounder Brandon Parker lining up at right tackle, The Athletic’s Tashan Reed tweets. Raiders OC Greg Olson deemed this new arrangement an attempt at getting the team’s best five O-linemen on the field together, via the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore (on Twitter).

While this might not be a long-term adjustment, Leatherwood sliding to guard is certainly notable. This year’s No. 17 overall pick worked as Alabama’s left tackle during his junior and senior seasons. However, Leatherwood’s first foray into first-string Crimson Tide duty came at guard — as a sophomore in 2018. Leatherwood has struggled at right tackle with Las Vegas. The Raiders’ latest surprise first-round pick not only grades as Pro Football Focus’ worst tackle but has produced the lowest pass-blocking grade of any rookie through four games in the site’s 16-season history, PFF’s Austin Gayle tweets.

Parker has not been a regular starter since his 2018 rookie season. He served as a spot starter over the ensuing two seasons, lining up with the Raiders’ first-stringers seven times from 2019-20. The team’s current issues may lead to another opportunity. The Raiders jettisoned their three most experienced O-linemen in March, trading away Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson and Trent Brown. That has led to some predictable early issues up front.

Las Vegas is currently down starting guards Richie Incognito and Denzelle Good. The former is on short-term IR, while the latter is out for the season. The team has second-year guard John Simpson and Jermaine Eluemunor at guard, though neither is faring particularly well. While Derek Carr has offered up a strong start, the Raiders rank 27th in rushing.

Raiders Sign First-Round OL Alex Leatherwood

Alex Leatherwood has put pen to paper. The Raiders first-round pick has signed his rookie deal, the team announced this evening.

Offensive line was one of the team’s biggest needs heading into the draft, and the Raiders made sure they secured one of the top offensive line prospects. While some pundits believe GM Mike Mayock may have reached a bit to select the Alabama product at No. 17, there’s no denying Leatherwood’s potential.

The 6-foot-5, 312-pound lineman was a standout during his four years at Alabama, winning a pair of championships and a long list of individual accolades (including unanimous first-team All-American and All-SEC nods in 2020). Leatherwood earned his high draft stock due to his performance at offensive tackle, and he’ll likely slot in at right tackle for the Raiders in 2021. Long term, there’s a chance the team uses him as an offensive guard.

The Raiders have now signed four of their seven draft picks:

Round 1: No. 17 Alex Leatherwood, OL (Alabama)
Round 2: No. 43 (from 49ers) Trevon Moehrig, S (TCU)
Round 3: No. 79 (from Cardinals) Malcolm Koonce, DE (Buffalo)
Round 3: No. 80 Divine Deablo, S (Virginia Tech)
Round 4: No. 143 (from Vikings via Jets) Tyree Gillespie, S (Missouri) (signed)
Round 5: No. 167 (from Seahawks) Nate Hobbs, CB (Illinois) (signed)
Round 7: No. 230 (from Jets via 49ers) Jimmy Morrissey, C (Pittsburgh) (signed)

North Notes: Chase, Steelers, Vikings

The Bengals encountered some scrutiny for passing on Penei Sewell to take Ja’Marr Chase at No. 5, given their issues on the offensive line. But the Chase-over-Sewell stance formed weeks ahead of the draft. Bengals brass went to Joe Burrow for a detailed opinion on this matter. Chase having played a key part in Burrow winning the 2019 Heisman Trophy, and Jeremy Fowler of notes the second-year quarterback gave his ex-LSU teammate a strong endorsement. Chase-to-Cincinnati gained considerable steam ahead of the draft, and the Bengals followed through with the move to add the impact receiver prospect to a wideout group that includes Tyler Boyd and 2020 second-rounder Tee Higgins. The Bengals viewed Chase as the kind of talent too good to pass up, Fowler adds. The Bengals drafted offensive linemen in the second, fourth and sixth rounds, with Jackson Carman — whom the team selected after trading down eight spots — being the most notable of these additions.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Continuing recent tradition, the Raiders surprised draft viewers with their first-round pick. The Jon GrudenMike Mayock regime chose Alex Leatherwood 17th overall. The Alabama tackle was viewed by most as a major reach; Scouts Inc. rated him as this draft’s 60th-best prospect. The Raiders may have been leery of two teams eyeing Leatherwood in the back half of Round 1, however. The Steelers and Vikings had Leatherwood on their respective radars, per Fowler. The Vikings drafted Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw (Scouts Inc.’s No. 20 overall prospect) at No. 23. Pittsburgh preferred him to most of the draft’s second-tier tackles, but the team appeared locked in on ex-Leatherwood teammate Najee Harris at No. 24. Leatherwood is expected to work as a right tackle in Las Vegas.
  • Although the Steelers’ depth chart has the look of one that would benefit from a veteran tackle addition, they do not appear to be eyeing one in the post-draft period of free agency. Despite Alejandro Villanueva defecting to the Ravens and the Steelers not drafting a tackle before Round 4, the team likes its left tackle setup, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Pittsburgh lost three O-line starters — Villanueva, Maurkice Pouncey and Matt Feiler — this offseason and is planning to move right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor to the left side. Pro Football Focus viewed Okorafor as one of the league’s worst tackles in 2020, grading him 70th at the position. Okorafor spent the 2018 and ’19 seasons as a backup, moving into the Steelers’ starting lineup after Zach Banner‘s Week 1 ACL tear. Banner has re-signed and is expected to compete for the right tackle job.
  • Thanks to the Lions’ $13.5MM-per-year extension for Frank Ragnow, the NFL has a new highest-paid center.
  • The Bears did not become aggressive in their effort to trade up for Justin Fields until draft day, when they identified a few teams as trade-down candidates and engaged in negotiations.

Raiders Use No. 17 Pick To Take Alex Leatherwood

With the No. 17 overall pick, the Raiders tapped Alabama tackle Alex Leatherwood. Leatherwood wasn’t widely viewed as a mid-first rounder, but GM Mike Mayock has never been afraid to think outside the box. 

Pundits may have mixed opinions about Leatherwood, but the offensive line was unquestionably among the Raiders’ biggest needs heading into tonight. Now without Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson, and Trent Brown. While they have Denzelle Good, Andre James, and Nick Martin to manage the interior, Leatherwood will be tasked with protecting the edge.

Leatherwood’s stock might have been higher last year. However, he opted to return to school and watch tackles Jedrick Wills Jr., Andrew Thomas, Tristan Wirfs, and Austin Jackson go pro ahead of him. At the pro level, he’ll look to reward Mayock’s confidence at the tackle position, though his long-term future could be at guard.

Mayock has delivered his first shock of the night, but he’ll have plenty of opportunities to stun the league throughout the weekend. As of this writing, the Raiders hold:

  • Round 2: No. 48
  • Round 3: No. 79 (from Cardinals), 80
  • Round 3: No. 80
  • Round 4: No. 121
  • Round 5: No. 162 (from Dolphins), 167 (from Seahawks)
  • Round 5: No. 167 (from Seahawks)
  • Round 6: No. 200