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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: IOL Alex Leatherwood

  • The Draft Network
  • December 21, 2020
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PROSPECT SUMMARY – ALEX LEATHERWOOD

Under the tutelage of former 1993 Heisman Trophy winner and Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward at Booker T. Washington High School (Florida), playing along both the offensive and defensive line, Leatherwood was known to dominate the competition no matter the arena. Committing to the Crimson Tide prior to his junior season, his allegiance never wavered and he was beyond excited to join “the factory” of talent that Nick Saban engineered. So much that he took extra credits during his final semester in order to become an early enrollee in Tuscaloosa (Jan. 2017). Upon his arrival, he provided instant depth to one of the best units in the country. Playing in seven games at left tackle, he mainly served as depth behind Jonah Williams. Thrust into action in the 2018 National Championship game due to injury, he was the blind-side protector during the second half in helping the program secure a 26-23 overtime victory over Georgia. As a sophomore, he was moved inside to right guard. Starting all 15 games, Leatherwood was a part of an interior group that blocked for an offense that was ranked as the sixth-best in the nation. During his final two seasons, he served as the team's left tackle. He has made 38 consecutive starts (and counting) in 45 career games played.

Leatherwood is a prospect that’s had experience at both guard and offensive tackle. Containing a towering and filled-out frame in many areas, he has adequate strength as a run blocker as he’s able to attach and drive defenders out of desired areas. His aggressiveness is a key ingredient to success in the run game, as he can completely overpower targets that he’s able to square up and land his body cleanly on. As a pass protector, Leatherwood has a clean pass set that’s able to gain ground up the field in order to stymie rushers that simply attack him vertically. His issues come against wise rushers that have the flexibility to alter and change their thought processes mid-rep. Leatherwood has stiffness in his lower half that doesn’t allow him to match the quick movements from twitchy edge defenders, which forces him into performing panic techniques by lunging and placing all of his weight forward. While Leatherwood has a wealth of experience at offensive tackle, his better long-term outlook may be at guard because of the limitations in his lower body. Still, the team that drafts him should experiment with him at offensive tackle to test his development and consistency there, but his upside could be greater at guard where his room to operate is condensed—which can mask some of the deficiencies contained in his lower body.

Ideal Role: Starting right or left guard that first should be experimented with at right or left tackle.

Scheme Fit: Man/Gap/Power blocking scheme.

FILM EVALUATION

Written by Jordan Reid

Games watched: LSU (2020), Auburn (2020), Texas A&M (2020), Mississippi State (2020), Missouri (2020), Georgia (2020), Florida (2020)

Best Game Studied: Missouri (2020), LSU (2020), Texas A&M (2020)

Worst Game Studied: Mississippi State (2020)

Pass Sets: Leatherwood is a smooth operator in his pass sets as he’s able to gain depth vertically when rushers are gaining on his upfield shoulder. His post (inside leg) and kick foot (outside leg) work in unison to display fluid movements that flow well together. Upright mannerisms help him keep his hands up ready to strike, leverage, and execute at the initiation of contact with down linemen. Leatherwood has shown to be comfortable with executing clean sets from both a two-point stance and with his hand in the dirt. Leatherwood’s troubles come when rushers alter their plans and elect to attack him over the opposite shoulder. With lots of stiffness in his lower halves when forced off of his original set points, he turns into a lunger that panics against inside counters or moves back across his face.

Competitive Toughness: When initiating contact, Leatherwood creates momentum into blocks. Staying low, he’s developed a tendency of galloping into double teams or down blocks with guards prior to climbing to the second level during seal attempts. A frequent competitor when engaged with defensive ends, he’s consistent with competing through the duration of plays. A violent and sometimes out of control player, he can become a bit overanxious with forcing contact onto opponents, resulting in him losing his balance. Having mature and sturdy body dimensions enables Leatherwood to compete at the point of attack and at the apex of pass-rush attempts.

Lateral Mobility: Lateral movements in the Crimson Tide’s scheme are seen on rollouts, bootlegs, and also designed shot plays down the field. Leatherwood is an average lateral mover, he’s able to keep his shoulder square to the line, but able to complete tasks that involve him washing down defensive ends to create clean edges for quarterbacks to clear for throwing lanes. On perimeter attacking zone scheme runs, he remains inconsistent with keeping his balance. Leatherwood’s temperament and speed out of stance can get the best of him, as he can create unnecessary collisions that result in creating avoidable clutter that clouds the vision of ball carriers. Leatherwood will often get caught throwing his body in holes or certain alleyways without actually having first initiated contact. This can result in a soft edge or allowing rushers to get up the field on him. When doing this in the running game, defensive linemen are able to manipulate paths of where they want to go because of his delay in touching them or failing to get hands on them completely.

Length: Containing adequate length, Leatherwood has the desirable length necessary to sustain his leverage at offensive tackle. Long arms combined with a rock-solid build in both his upper and lower halves helped his transition from the inside to the perimeter. Making the transition to tackle wasn’t a monumental feat for him and his length forced rushers to take longer paths in order to circle around his massive frame overall. When playing inside during the 2018 season, his length showed up frequently as his combination of that with lower-half power helped him experience success when playing guard. Squattier and compact defenders faced issues with his upper extremities due to the challenges of operating space alongside being unable to get inside of his chest while locking out on blocks.

Football IQ: Playing in a difficult scheme that involves lots of unique verbiage, Leatherwood has been able to play well at multiple spots. At tackle, his football smarts show up frequently.  Because of his experience along the interior, it has helped him identify the dangers associated with certain types of fronts. He’s shown to be able to communicate with guards to his side about the possibilities of what could happen when faced with unusual looks from the opposition. When there are no edge threats, he’s astute with keeping his eyes on a swivel for other alerts that could be made. Having a well-developed understanding and awareness of twists/stunts that defenses attempt to execute, he doesn’t chase crashers back to his inside shoulder knowing that the looper is soon to come back into his area.

Hand Technique: Leatherwood is a strong prospect overall. Even though he’s hot and cold with his balance and keeping his nose too far over his toes, he’s experienced success with repositioning his hands during one-on-one battles. Although the timing associated with it can be sporadic, he’s had reps of where he’s had answers to the counter moves of edge rushers. Leatherwood’s technique and timing with his hands will need to be tweaked due to the ways that he attacks defenders. Leatherwood often contains an aggressive go-getter mentality, but on those urgent attempts, he tries to execute underneath hand positioning that can be hit or miss. He turns into a scooper in that his hands start low and strike upward in a “U-like” motion, which leaves his chest exposed. This technique results in him often exposing his chest for a split second and losing any type of control that he initially sought.

Anchor Ability: When wanting to slam his feet in the ground and cancel the vertical push of rushers, he has positives when trying to execute that plan of attack. Possessing a filled out and thick base, it is apparent when blockers attack the middle of his body. Leatherwood is able to sink his hips and take on full force bull rush attempts.

Power at the P.O.A.: When able to connect his hands and body together on targets, he’s able to generate a considerable amount of movement. Leatherwood is more of a body blocker, where he wants to lean on down linemen in order to prevent them from detaching. Executing this type of technique has proven to be risky as he operates with a wide base. Placing his feet more than shoulder-width apart in his pre-snap stance, he carries out those mechanics when initiating contact. The wide stance and base at the point of attack are two big reasons why he’s a frequent faller to the ground. Being that he operates with those wide dimensions, he makes his base non-existent and his overall technique is susceptible to counter and inside moves from rushers.

Versatility: Leatherwood has high levels of versatility as he’s had seasons of experience at every position except center. Being able to swing back and forth at either tackle or guard spot serves as an asset to his draft portfolio. Being that his best tape was at guard, he’s best suited there, but NFL teams would be wise to try him at tackle first because of the value of that spot along the offensive front.

Prospect Comparison: Michael Oher (2009 NFL Draft, Baltimore Ravens)

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: 78.50/100

Joe Marino: 77.00/100

Kyle Crabbs: 76.50/100

Jordan Reid: 81.50/100

Drae Harris: 79.00/100

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