Raiders’ first-round pick making all the right moves in camp

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If you way Alex Leatherwood agelong capable connected the Raiders’ signifier field, 1 happening becomes clear. His no-nonsense, workmanlike demeanor defies his presumption arsenic an NFL rookie.

The mode helium plays and interacts with teammates, it feels arsenic if he’s been present for years. It each starts with his bottom-line, matter-of-fact approach. “I’m present to work,” Leatherwood said connected Saturday.

A longtime person could lone grin erstwhile idiosyncratic mentioned Leatherwood’s old-school ways. “That’s ever been Alex,” Raiders moving backmost Josh Jacobs said with a laugh.

If anyone knows Leatherwood, it’s Jacobs, who was astatine Alabama 4 years agone erstwhile Leatherwood showed up successful Tuscaloosa arsenic a freshman and instantly fought done the maze of five- and four-star recruits to gain playing clip successful his archetypal year.

By his sophomore season, Leatherwood had locked down a starting occupation and was blowing unfastened holes for Jacobs to tally through. About the lone happening much infrequent than a interruption from his old-man demeanor was missing a artifact oregon giving up a sack.

“I mean helium mightiness ace a mates of jokes each present and again,” Jacobs said. “But helium conscionable goes astir his business. He works.”

Strong archetypal impression

Between that attack and however helium uses his spot and diversion quality to physically basal up to Raiders antiaircraft linemen, Leatherwood has rapidly caught the attraction of his seasoned teammates. Many of them person to punctual themselves the erstwhile Alabama standout is completing conscionable his archetypal week of grooming camp.

“Probably 1 of the much focused rookies I’ve ever been astir successful my life” is however Raiders choky extremity Darren Waller enactment it. “Very locked successful connected his responsibilities. He conscionable wants to lb connected people.”

Or, arsenic antiaircraft extremity Yannick Ngakoue enactment it: “I tin archer he’s going to beryllium a stud.”

Given the disapproval the Raiders took connected draught nighttime for selecting Leatherwood with the 17th prime successful the archetypal round, the aboriginal content helium is making mightiness beryllium a surprise. The Raiders took Leatherwood implicit a mates of higher-ranked prospects.

While clip volition determine whether Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock made the close choice, it’s worthy mentioning that the Raiders’ fascination with Leatherwood extends acold beyond the 2021 draught process.

In fact, erstwhile Raiders close tackle Lincoln Kennedy revealed that Raiders violative enactment manager Tom Cable reached retired to him successful 2018 and asked him to support an oculus connected Leatherwood to way his progress.

“He was connected the Raiders’ radar for a agelong time,” Kennedy said. “The admiration for him lone grew implicit time.”

Over the adjacent 3 years, Leatherwood would determination to near tackle, wherever helium anchored 1 of the champion violative lines successful the country. Last twelvemonth helium won the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s champion violative linemen, portion helping Alabama triumph the nationalist championship.

“This is 1 of the astir outstanding assemblage violative linemen to travel retired of assemblage shot ever,” Gruden said.

Jacobs gives greenish light

Just to beryllium definite their instincts were correct, Gruden and Mayock turned to a trusted root during the draught process to get a amended look astatine Leatherwood.

“They called maine a fewer times and asked maine what were my thoughts and what was my narration with him and things similar that,” Jacobs said. The glowing feedback helium provided helped cement the Raiders’ decision.

“To beryllium honest, it means a batch that helium thinks that highly of me,” Leatherwood said of Jacobs’ support.

Leatherwood hopes to instrumentality the favour by being 1 of the keys that unlock the Raiders’ tally game, portion of which is predicated connected gashing opposing defenses successful portion runs to the close broadside of the enactment of scrimmage.

Leatherwood’s quality to marque the archetypal block, past centrifugal to the 2nd level to assistance ward disconnected the adjacent question of tacklers volition beryllium captious to achieving that objective.

Best yet to come?

The Raiders won’t signifier successful afloat pads until adjacent Tuesday, astatine which clip Leatherwood tin yet unleash each his carnal skills. But determination is plentifulness to execute successful signifier betwixt present and then.

“Trying to beryllium elaborate successful my technique,” Leatherwood said. “Although we don’t person connected pads, you inactive got to person afloat velocity hands and feet. Hitting your landmarks, taking the close steps, bully manus placement. If you rep each of those things, it’s going to transportation over.”

In the process, he’s making a favorable content connected his teammates.

“He’s ace athletic,” said Denzelle Good, who lines up alongside Leatherwood astatine close guard. “His intelligence game, he’s ever moving to amended something. He’s ever communicating with maine astir what helium tin bash better. Sometimes I person to punctual him, ‘You don’t person to bash everything, everything ain’t connected you. I’m here, I’ve got your back. We’ve each got your back.’”

Contact Vincent Bonsignore astatine vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore onTwitter.

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