The Las Vegas Raiders may be undefeated with a 3-0 record right now but things haven’t always been pretty. The offensive line has been wildly inconsistent at every position. Left tackle Kolton Miller is mostly solid but is also prone to the occasional mistake.
While each player on the line could be taken to task, the one who has struggled the most is rookie right tackle Alex Leatherwood. The first-round pick out of Alabama was supposed to be polished coming into the NFL due to his 48 games played in college. However, there have been some really bad growing pains. He’s already allowed three sacks and committed four penalties. He’s also the lowest graded tackle in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Alex Kay of Bleacher Report believes that it’s already time to send Leatherwood to the bench:
The rookie has given up three sacks and taken four penalties on his 200 snaps in just three games.
While the Raiders used the No. 17 pick on the Alabama product this year, it’s obvious he is not ready to start. Sending him to the bench while he develops should be at the top of coach Jon Gruden’s to-do list.
Jackson Barton is behind Leatherwood on the depth chart but clearly deserves an opportunity to replace the starter.
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Should Raiders Bench Leatherwood?
There’s no doubt Leatherwood is struggling. In fact, he almost cost the Raiders their Week 1 win against the Baltimore Ravens with a false start in overtime at the one-yard line. However, the team doesn’t have great options behind him. Jackson Barton has yet to play in an NFL game and Brandon Parker has notoriously struggled at right tackle.
There’s no reason to believe that either of them would provide much of an upgrade over Leatherwood. It’s frustrating to watch now but he deserves time to develop. Miller was a disaster as a rookie but is now one of the better left tackles in the NFL. Leatherwood has been facing some tough defenses to start the year so it’s not like he’s struggling against weak competition. Once he can weather the storm of facing fierce pass rushers, he should be playing much better.
Andre James Should Be on the Hot Seat
If any of the Raiders’ offensive linemen should be on the hot seat, it’s center Andre James. For some reason, the team gave him a contract extension in the offseason with the intention of him being the starting center for some time. That looks baffling in hindsight as he doesn’t appear to know how to snap a football to quarterback Derek Carr.
He’s botched three snaps in three games and is consistently shooting the ball high to Carr. He’s also providing no push in the run game whatsoever. Similar to Leatherwood, James deserves time to develop but he’s also in his third season in the NFL. Yes, he’s only played in four games but there’s no reason he should be struggling this much. He’s the lowest graded center in the NFL, per PFF. The Raiders should strongly consider putting in backup center Nick Martin if James continues to play this poorly.