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2021 NFL Draft

Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood Fantastic at Pro Day with Steelers Brass Looking on

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Alabama Pro Day was on Tuesday, and it was no surprise that Mac Jones, Jaylen Waddle, and Patrick Surtain were the stars of the show with many, like Najee Harris, not competing. That left room for standout tackle prospect Alex Leatherwood to steal some of the shine away on the big day in Tuscaloosa. And steal the show he did.

The First-Team All-American put up fantastic numbers across the board on Tuesday. While he did not do the agility drills, Leatherwood did test especially well in the explosive tests and 10-yard split.

That natural athleticism was apparent when his drills were ongoing. Leatherwood looked light on his feet and had a spring in his step that not many offensive linemen have. The fluidity and natural athleticism will be key for Leatherwood to take advantage of at the next level. He is guard and tackle versatile, but Leatherwood sees himself in one specific position.

“I will always feel like I’m a left tackle,” Leatherwood said. “But with my skillset, my size, my strength, and my length, I feel like I can play anywhere along the offensive line.”

Leatherwood knows his full-on transition to tackle is not complete, however. Specifically, Leatherwood is looking to improve on how he uses his hands and length to make up for some apparent lateral stiffness.

“Really knowing my length and using it to my advantage is key,” Leatherwood said. “You know, switching up my punches, not being so predictable in what I’m gonna do. Using my length more to determine the rep more.”

In order to improve there, Leatherwood is willing to put in the work necessary. That is a trait, along with his tenacious appetite to work, that he credits to Alabama coach Nick Saban.

“The things we go through here (Alabama) to prepare us, we make practice harder than a game will ever be,” Leatherwood said. “Me being used to that, knowing how to prepare, and things like that is just gonna help me that much more.”

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Leatherwood’s motivation to get better is no secret. While he has the natural gifts and the physical talents to be a very good player, Leatherwood says the passion comes from a place of love.

“I just love the game of football,” Leatherwood said. “I love playing O-Line you know what I mean. I feel like it’s one of the most cerebral and technical positions on the field. That chase of perfection is fun for me.”

After an up and down Senior Bowl, Leatherwood’s stock is back on the rise after his strong pro-day performance. It came in front of General Manager Kevin Colbert, Head Coach Mike Tomlin, and Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada. All three were intently watching Leatherwood go through position drills. NFL Network Draft Analyst Daniel Jeremiah gave a critical, but optimistic view of Leatherwood on Tuesday.

“Everything I hear about the kid is about how intelligent he is,” Jeremiah said. “He’s not perfect. He’s got some technical flaws to work through, but I’m gonna give him the opportunity to start at tackle knowing that if that doesn’t work out I have the opportunity to have a really good guard.”

Jeremiah did note that some teams do have Leatherwood listed as a guard. However, the range that Jeremiah listed for Leatherwood’s draft stock is very intriguing.

“I think he’s a day two guy,” Jeremiah said. “The earliest he would go is the back-end of two would be my guess. He doesn’t get out of the third round for sure.”

That could implicate Leatherwood being a possible choice at No. 55 in the second round for the Steelers after having long been linked to them. That value feels great and ideal for the Steelers. And after what they saw on Tuesday, it may just happen.

 

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