Many people would not think that a unanimous All American selection, Outland Trophy winner, and two-time national championship would be a reach in the late first round. However, that seems to be the case with Alex Leatherwood.
Leatherwood was a five-star recruit who played in all four seasons for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He replaced first-round pick Jonah Williams as the blindside protector, and the transition was seamless. He started 26 games at left tackle and received numerous awards, accolades, and conference selections. To boot, Alabama won the national championship during Leatherwood's freshman and senior seasons, a fitting introduction and sendoff.
Despite all this, Leatherwood's draft stock may have fallen after his junior season. Despite having several preferred measurements, especially with his 85 3/8 inches wingspan and 34 3/8" arm length, a litany of red flags appear. One of those is all the yellow flags he draws on the field, with 20 penalties against him in the past 30 games. A staggering number, especially from an Alabama player. Another could be his motor, as he can stop early on plays or not finish through a block.
The most glaring bump to Leatherwood's draft stock was this past Senior Bowl, where he seemed pedestrian against smaller rushers. Miami's Quincy Roche exposed him in one-on-one drills.
And the trend continued during the week.
These issues arose in one-on-one drills, while Leatherwood still had success during team and scrimmage reps.
Quincy Roche has been giving Alex Leatherwood some problems this week, but Leatherwood is still battling. Fantastic job maintaining his leverage on this rep. pic.twitter.com/iqX1RKgM6Q— Steven Haglund (@StevenIHaglund) January 28, 2021
While Leatherwood faced top talent in the SEC, facing other top prospects and failing at points certainly hurt his draft stock. The question is, should the Chiefs take advantage of this?
nfl.com currently has Leatherwood with a 6.28 grade, which lists him as a "good backup who could become starter". This grade has him as the fifth best offensive tackle in the draft, while top prospect Penei Sewell has a 6.73 grade. The top 15 offensive tackle prospects have a super-6.1 grade, which carries the same projection of a "good backup who could become starter". While there may be more enticing prospects such as Walker Little or Sam Cosmi, LEatherwood is ranked ahead of them all for a reason.
Barring any of the top four offensive tackle prospects falling to 31st overall, Leatherwood should be considered for the selection. Cases could be made for Cosmi (6.26 grade) or Stone Forsythe (6.27 grade) to be taken instead. Unlike those possibilities, Leatherwood has a championship pedigree coming from Alabama. That is not something that can be measured and would fit in with the Chiefs organization.
Ideally, the Chiefs could pull off a trade down into the early 2nd round and still get a tackle while gaining more draft capital either in 2021 or 2022.
This would be undoubtedly a reach in my opinion. Yet, it is hard to argue that selecting an offensive tackle at 62nd overall is wise. There may be solid options available, such as Jaylon Moore or Josh Ball, but Leatherwood is certainly more ready than those options. This is a reach that will be celebrated if it works, or denounced if it doesn't. The worst thing the Chiefs organization is do nothing to address the position.