Raiders deny front-office ‘friction’ over Alex Leatherwood pick

Mike Mayock, Oakland Raiders. (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Mike Mayock, Oakland Raiders. (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Las Vegas Raiders are denying front-office ‘friction’ after reaching on Alex Leatherwood.

While Alex Leatherwood was a terrific player for the Alabama football team, the Las Vegas Raiders absolutely reached on the offensive tackle prospect at No. 17 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

In a draft that saw a record-tying six Alabama players taken in the first round, Leatherwood’s inclusion in that half-dozen was easily the strangest. He was not one of the four Alabama stars to make the trek to Cleveland to be drafted in-person. There was a chance he could have been on the board into the early 60s. All the while, the Raiders deny any front-office “friction” over the pick.

This is the third year in a row the Raiders did something highly questionable in the first round.

Las Vegas Raiders: Mike Mayock, Jon Gruden reach on Alex Leatherwood

It is no coincidence that the Raiders’ continually confusing draft selections align with the front-office partnership between head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock. Gruden came back to the Raiders out of the ESPN booth in 2018. Mayock left The NFL Network a year later in 2019. Together, they love to overdraft guys who played in the College Football Playoff.

Admittedly, Leatherwood’s selection would have landed better with Raider Nation and NFL fans in general if they were able to move back and pick up further compensation. Even if he was the top guy on their board at that time, you have to be smarter than that if you want to beat the other 31 teams in the NFL with any regularity. This is why they have made the postseason once since 2003.

While there may not be any “friction,” it does not mean the Raiders are getting it right in the draft.

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