The Oakland Raiders might be done with Alex Leatherwood
The Chicago Bears need help at the offensive line position, and Alex Leatherwood might be available soon as an option for the team to add to the roster. The Chicago Bears have been throwing everything they can at the unit, trying different combinations this preseason.
There have been rumors the Bears are looking to make moves for more offensive linemen before the season starts. One possible option that would make sense is Leatherwood. Reports have come out this week that the Oakland Raiders are ready to move on from Leatherwood either via a trade or cutting the second-year offensive lineman.
Per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN:
Raiders game vs. N.E. big for right side of Las Vegas' O-line. Team feels unsettled there, at multiple spots, and several teams I've spoken to are keeping an eye on OL Alex Leatherwood, believing he might be traded or released. But Raiders wanted to evaluate game before decisions
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 26, 2022
Alex Leatherwood has a high ceiling
Leatherwood was drafted in the first round last year. The Alabama Crimson Tide product struggled as a rookie. He received an overall grade of 45 by Pro Football Focus as Leatherwood gave up eight sacks in 2021.
Leatherwood’s technique is his main issue to overcome, according to Ted Nguyen with The Athletic:
Alex Leatherwood’s unpolished technique is one reason many felt the Raiders reached for the right tackle in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The regime led by former coach Jon Gruden fell in love with his explosiveness and mean streak and believed that he could improve his technique under then-offensive line coach Tom Cable, but Leatherwood struggled in four starts at right tackle as a rookie, causing the Raiders to move him to right guard for the remainder of the season.
Leatherwood’s situation with the Raiders is similar to the Bears and Teven Jenkins. Former general manager Ryan Pace traded up to draft Jenkins in the second round. The expectation was that Jenkins would be a left tackle. He’s currently the Bears’ right guard.
Leatherwood could potentially make an excellent guard in the Bears system. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy says his scheme favors guards over tackles as they have to deal with more mentally stressful situations. The offensive line could be all thumbs in the form of tackle frames.
It’s possible he could be a solid fit for the Bears at left guard, where Cody Whitehair could switch to center until Lucas Patrick is back. This would free the Bears from having Sam Mustipher be a starter in Week One and, eventually, Whitehair when Patrick is healthy.
With time and the proper teaching from Bears offensive line coach Chris Morgan, Leatherwood could eventually return to being a tackle. He has the size to be a Pro Bowl-caliber offensive lineman in the NFL.
The Bears should explore the option, especially if Alex Leatherwood is cut from the Raiders. Could he make a positive transformation in Chicago? The Bears need a storyline like that.
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