Every year the NFL Draft brings an influx of drama and surprises, but there is no question that the biggest shock of the first round was when the Las Vegas Raiders selected offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood with the 17th overall pick.
Nearly every mainstream draft analyst valued Leatherwood as a second-round selection or a late first-round pick at the very best. But Las Vegas saw the man it wanted for the job and is already starting to show promise during the team’s OTAs.
He is currently working with the first-team offensive line and has already garnered praise from his teammates.
“He’s a big body. He comes from a storied program at Alabama, and he’s done a ton of winning, a couple national championships under his belt,” Raiders’ left guard Richie Incognito said to reporters Wednesday. “He’s a quiet kid. I texted with him a little bit after he got drafted and things have been so hectic here just getting back and getting into some things. But he’s quiet, he’s a hard worker. He’s picking up on what Coach (offensive line coach Tom) Cable is laying down and I expect him to have a big year.”
Leatherwood started for three seasons for the Crimson Tide as he played both guard and tackle in his career. It’s currently unclear where the Raiders will use the Pensacola, FL native along the line.
Another area Leatherwood has excelled in is his character and how he conducts himself on and off of the field. During his time at Alabama, he was praised for his leadership and professional attitude in all areas which has impressed the team so far.
“I like the idea that he just come in and go to work,“ Las Vegas defensive end Clelin Ferrell said. “I think him coming from Alabama and me coming from Clemson, I think one of the biggest things he learned is he already kind of knew how to conduct himself like a pro. So, he already practices in a manner to where he knows the tempo, he’s not really overwhelmed with too much of the plays.
“I know he had some mistakes, but I think the biggest thing is that he kind of came in with like a pro mentality. Not very young and naïve, and if he does something wrong his head isn’t down, he’s kind of on to the next play already. So, I think that early mindset is going to be good for him because as we all know one of the hardest things to come in and do is play right tackle, or especially left tackle in the league, so I think he’s got a good mindset so far, so early on.”
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77