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Could the Steelers Target Raiders OT Alex Leatherwood?



Alex Leatherwood

There is no doubt that the Steelers need to do something about their offensive line. Looking outisde the organization at this time of year is tenuous and tough, however. Still, when a young player who the Steelers had interest in during the pre-draft process pops up as potentially available it is noteworthy. According to a report by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Las Vegas Raiders are looking to potentially move on from Alex Leatherwood.

Whether that be via trade or signing him, Leatherwood did have plenty of pre-draft interest from the Steelers. That was noted and a very serious thing. However, Leatherwood was picked far before the Steelers came on the clock in what many considered a reach by the Raiders. But new regimes change and sometimes old players fall out of favor. It appears that is what is ocurring right now between Leatherwood and the Raiders.

The Raiders started Leatherwood at right tackle last year, but it got bad enough that they kicked him inside to guard. Now, in this offseason, they have given him another chance to compete at right tackle, but he has just not been able to win that job. There are a variety of reasons for Leatherwood’s struggles, but his technique is flawed. Often times, Leatherwood can be almost too tentative and miss his landmarks in pass protection. That is a huge part of why he is often beat at tackle.

The issue for Leatherwood is that he was not particularly good at any spot. At guard, he struggled with the obvious transition to more aggressive sets. At tackle, he struggles to understand how much depth to get and how to properly use his hands. So, why in the world should Pittsburgh even be interested in Leatherwood? They have enough of their own issues as it stands, and Leatherwood looks bad.

It is simple, and the fact of the matter is that Leatherwood has physical gifts that can not be taught. Between great length, sweet feet, and tremendous movement skills, Leatherwood has the physical tools that can not be taught. His faulty technique to this point has him in some extremely hot waters. But when a promising player with these tools is only 23 years old, it is hard not to argue making a run at him.

Regardless of what happens here, the Steelers should at least be interested to take a flyer. But do not expect Alex Leatherwood to come in and usurp anyone on the starting offensive line. As stated previously, Leatherwood needs a lot of work on his technique at large. That will take time, and popping Leatherwood into a spot on the starting offensive line seems hasty at best and foolish at best.

For the sake of what the Steelers have in the cupboard, Leatherwood’s upside makes a lot of sense for Pittsburgh. Still, he is not the solution to their issues this year. If he is released, the Steelers putting in a waiver claim makes a lot of sense. However, they should look elsewhere to solve their short-term problems across the offensive line.

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