The Raiders drafted Alex Leatherwood with the 17th pick in this year’s draft with the idea that he’d be their right tackle of the present and future.
Leatherwood may still be the long-term solution at tackle. But at least for now, the Raiders have moved him inside to right guard and replaced him at tackle with Brandon Parker.
The change happened a couple of weeks ago, before the team’s loss to Chicago. While the Raiders didn’t have much offensive success in that contest — and there were likely other factors at play given head coach Jon Gruden’s resignation the next day — things went much better for Leatherwood and Las Vegas’ offense in Denver last week.
For his part, Leatherwood has embraced the change to guard, saying he felt he’d be of more use inside to improve the offense.
“I’ll be a tight end. I’ll play free safety. It doesn’t matter,” Leatherwood said, via Vinny Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I just want to help the team in any way I can.”
Leatherwood acknowledged that the Raiders were having trouble in the run game, which was better against Denver. And while Leatherwood played guard during his sophomore season at Alabama, getting back at the position for a second week made him feel “a thousand percent” more comfortable.
“It’s like, not as much space and it’s a little slower up in there, so naturally it just comes a little easier,” Leatherwood said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Moving Leatherwood inside has seemed to steady Las Vegas’ offensive line for now. But whoever the Raiders hire as their next full-time head coach will have to decide if that’s where Leatherwood should be for the long haul.