The plan never was to have Alex Leatherwood play right guard. From the moment they drafted him, the Raiders wanted him to be their starting right tackle. But after poor play and several injuries to their offensive guards, Leatherwood made the switch inside.
While he has been far from perfect, Leatherwood has had more success at guard than at offensive tackle.
According to Pro Football Focus, Leatherwood averaged a grade of 38.2 at right tackle versus 54.3 at right guard. While neither grade is great or even average, the offensive line as a unit has performed better with him at right guard.
In a recent article by PFF, they discussed all 32 first-round picks after seven weeks and how they are playing. Leatherwood continues to struggle and grade poorly among his peers, but his improvements as a run blocker have been noticed.
“Leatherwood remains inside at right guard after struggling badly while at right tackle to begin the season. Against Philadelphia, Leatherwood was fine as a run blocker but earned a lowly 8.1 PFF pass-blocking grade thanks to surrendering four total pressures.
Three of them could have been the same play, with multiple different Eagles defensive linemen beating him to the inside and putting quick pressure on quarterback Derek Carr. Leatherwood has power in abundance but needs to get a better handle on his pass-blocking technique in a hurry.”
Leatherwood and the rest of the offensive line were able to open up some massive holes for Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake in Week 7. The team rushed for 119 yards with both Jacobs and Drake averaging over 4.8 yards per carry.
Leatherwood still needs to drastically improve as a pass-blocker, but his power and length in the run game have been better utilized at guard. He’s graded out well in that area, but his pass-blocking woes and penalties need to be fixed.
It’s been a tough start to the season for Leatherwood, but he is slowly settling into the right guard spot. The hope is that he can continue to improve each week and potentially earn back his right tackle spot sometime in the future. Until then, he will remain at right guard, where he is having some success.
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