Alex Leatherwood is a behemoth of man, 6’6 and every bit of 310lbs listed. He is a stalwart left tackle for Alabama, and in a year that seems to feature more o line depth than any draft class in recent memory, his is a name that has a spotlight on it and deservedly so. I dove into Leatherwood’s game to see what kind of player he projects to be at the next level.
Strengths: Alex Leatherwood is strong. Insanely strong. Once he has his hands on a defender, it’s essentially a dead play for whoever the unlucky victim is. Does not surrender ground when facing a strong bull rush, even if beaten to the point of attack and forced to concede a few feet while he resets his anchor, once he does he will hold his ground. Has the necessary athleticism to keep speed rushers from turning the corner on him, and will use his giant frame to wash them out of the play. His punch is powerful enough to knock other grown men completely off course. He knows his assignments up front and is not easily fooled by stunts, will consistently make the correct decision as to which block to make when faced with a free rusher. In the run game, he is a mauler. His strength and aggressiveness overpowers defenders and he can create massive holes for ballcarriers. He shows efficient cut blocking when asked to do so, though it wasn’t very frequent. His experience at guard gives him versatility, which is a big plus towards playing time.
Weaknesses: Has a bad habit of being very lazy with his hands, leaving them extremely low at the snap and then bringing them up to punch with momentum. This leads to late contact at times and allows defenders to space they need to get by him. On several occasions he is noticeably late getting out of his stance at the snap, farther exacerbating the problem with being slow with his hands. While he is athletic, he is awkward in space, and can struggle with bendy speed rushers. When attacking the second level, which he does well, his angles are just awkward sometimes causing him to whiff on his assignment. Could do a better job of looking for work at times.
Final Thoughts: I am high on Leatherwood. Yes, he needs coaching and improvement, but the foundation is there to not only be a fixture at left tackle for a franchise, but to do so at a consistent pro bowl level. He is a nasty finisher who is vicious in the run game and proficient in pass protection. He warrants a high first round draft pick in my opinion.