Alex Leatherwood 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Updated: Feb 24, 2021
Alabama Crimson Tide is a factory for NFL Draft talent and Alex Leatherwood will be the latest offensive lineman from the college to enter the league in April's showpiece event. Is Leatherwood a first round prospect? Read our scouting report and decide for yourself as we take a look at the 2021 NFL Draft prospect.
NFL Draft Profile
Alex Leatherwood - OL, Alabama
Height – 6’6”
Weight – 312lbs
Class – Senior
Hometown – Pensacola, Florida
Leatherwood was a highly touted 5-Star prospect and chose Alabama ahead of many of the top colleges from all-acro ss the nation, including LSU, Texas, Michigan & USC. Leatherwood was primarily a backup in his 2017 Freshman year but saw action in 7 games, including coming off the bench for Jonah Williams in the National Championship Game as Alabama came from behind to win.
It was the 2018 Sophomore season which saw Leatherwood really make a name for himself as he became the starting right guard for the Crimson Tide. Initially, with Jonah Williams returning at left tackle Leatherwood was pencilled in as starting right tackle but practices in Spring Camp proved troublesome. Leatherwood had played left tackle in high school and struggled with the transition to right tackle so moved to right guard with Jedrick Wills shifting outside.
Leatherwood earned Second Team All-SEC Honours in 2018 before the move to his more natural home at Left Tackle for the last two seasons. Further accolades came his way in 2019 when he was named to the AFCA Coaches All-America First Team, ahead of his teammate and first round draft pick Jedrick Wills.
His anchor is elite. Barely gets moved backwards when absorbing bull-rushes and you will rarely see him in the lap of the quarterback. His patience has improved from his first starting season where he would often lunge and be off balance and spend too much time on the ground.
This season has seen him wait for the defender to enter his strike zone before using his long reach and strong punch to nullify his opponent. His thick arms also make defensive counters incredibly difficult – plenty of examples of swats/chops by defensive linemen being ineffective at removing themselves from Leatherwood’s grasp. Combine those arms with a quick get off to his kick slide, pass blocking reps are negated should he quick-set and get his hands on the defender.
Excellent recognition of his responsibility and the sealing of running lanes. Not content with just trying to outmuscle defenders to clear space, he is aware of how to position his body to open lanes in the running game.
Speed kills. Despite having a quick first step for his size, speed rushers with quick feet have caused Leatherwood issues. It certainly isn’t a common occurrence and there is plenty of good tape of him against speed rushers but when he does get beat, it is to speed either to the edge, quick inside counters or to spin moves.
The SEC Championship Game against Florida saw him beaten twice easily with both an inside spin and an outside spin. That lack of foot quickness also shows up when blocking at the second level as there are plenty of occasions on tape where he appears lost in space and slow to respond to defenders. It appears that he is heading downfield to a pre-determined patch of turf before reacting, oblivious to the play going on around him and opportunities to block defenders. I am yet to witness much development in this area throughout his college career.
Can seem tentative when pulling and has been surprisingly stonewalled by much smaller players that show resistance.
As he has improved his patience, the occasions he has found himself on the floor being overly aggressive have reduced, although his punch timing can cause issues. Being late on the punch to bull-rushes does not cause him issues as he has the anchor to sustain the initial push but when faced with an opponent with speed moves or late hands, he can be caused problems.
Both the spin moves against Florida could arguably be attributed to being slow to the punch.
On the rare instances where he does find himself being pushed back by a bull rush, I would like to see attempts made to disengage the defender’s hands and re-establish control. I am not sure when going up against stronger linemen in the NFL whether the reliance on a stout anchor alone will be sufficient.
He has been exceptional at tackle in his career but with the possible limitations against speed rushers on the outside combined with his elite anchor against power, the question of whether he is a candidate to transition inside is an obvious one.
He was successful when playing right guard and with development in his patience he should be even more effective. The hand fighting will need to improve and become more instinctive if he were to slide to guard as that control is key to fighting in a phone booth.
He has gone up against elite talents in College Football, but every week in the NFL he will be up against players that could expose his flaws. He isn’t a great athlete, and I am not expecting him to blow up the combine like other recent first round tackle prospects, so whether he can develop the foot speed enough is a major question.
There is enough quality tape against those speed rushers, like K’Lavon Chaisson and Azeez Ojulari, that he should be given the chance to succeed at tackle for a team with the right scheme. Ultimately though, I feel like he will be a long-term starter on the interior.
Day 2 Pick – 2nd Round
Alabama vs Georgia - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSIpMkG3gjc
Alabama vs LSU - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr_cxBCpo0U
Alabama vs Florida - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhQMK-HoFyU
Alabama vs Tennessee - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWtpV0h32xo
Alabama vs LSU - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrRY8ihLIhA&t=2929s
Alabama vs Ole Miss - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd5sd_9WQCk
Alabama vs Mississippi State - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A34b3VggBD4
More 2021 NFL Draft articles and analysis:
Kwity Paye Scouting Report