The Las Vegas Raiders have made some pretty terrible decisions over the last few years. From bad free agents to mind-boggling draft selections, the team has been prone to shooting itself in the foot. However, this offseason yielded some very smart decisions. Hiring Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator, signing Casey Hayward and Yannick Ngkaoue and then drafting Trevon Moehrig and Nate Hobbs were all great decisions in hindsight.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, not everything they did turned out well. Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report believes that the decision for the team to draft offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood in the first round was their “most boneheaded” decision of 2021:
Las Vegas overdrafted the blocker at No. 17 with the intention of starting him at right tackle. Leatherwood never started at right tackle during his collegiate career, and his lack of comfort at the position was obvious. He’s since become a fixture at right guard—where he began his career in the Alabama Crimson Tide lineup—and played better.
Clearly, a misevaluation occurred.
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Leatherwood 2nd in NFL in Penalties
Leatherwood has improved since the Raiders moved him to guard but the team didn’t use a first-round pick on an average guard. Through nine games, he’s second in the NFL in penalties with nine that were accepted. Poor play is one thing, but penalties should be more avoidable.
Leatherwood needs to learn to limit simple mistakes. That alone would make increase his value to the team. Until then, it’s safe to say that drafting him in the first round of this year’s draft was the Raiders’ most questionable decision. Obviously, he has time to develop into a capable starter but it remains to be seen if that will be at guard or tackle in the future.
Raiders Select OT in Mock Draft
Regardless of where the Raiders plan to play Leatherwood in the future, the offensive line should be a focal point for the team this offseason. Starting left guard Richie Incognito likely won’t come back next season and the team won’t see Brandon Parker as the right tackle of the future. Las Vegas can always look to free agency to fix the offensive line but the draft may end up being the best option.
In a recent mock draft from Josh Edwards of CBS Sports, the Raiders select offensive tackle Kenyon Green out of Texas A&M.
“It might come as a surprise to some but Las Vegas’ decision to part with Trent Brown, Rodney Hudson and Gabe [Jackson] has not gone well,” Edwards wrote. “The addition of Green allows the Raiders to begin righting a wrong.”
If the Raiders drafted Green, it would show that they don’t see Leatherwood as a right tackle anymore. However, similar to Leatherwood, Green can also play guard. He’d be a versatile option for the team but it might be better to stick with a true right tackle. The risk of moving Leatherwood from left tackle to right tackle hasn’t paid off.