NAME: Alex Leatherwood
POSITION: Offensive Lineman
WEIGHT: 312 pounds
Born and raised in Pensacola, Florida, Alex Leatherwood was a standout on both the offensive line and defensive line in high school. While attending Booker T. Washington High School, he played under head coach Charlie Ward, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1993 at Florida State. Pensacola News Journal named him first team All-Area as a junior in 2015 and as a senior in 2016. Also as a senior, Leatherwood was named first team All-American by Parade and second team USA Today All-USA selection. Coming out of high school the offensive lineman was a consensus five-star recruit, a top ten recruit for his class and one of the top players coming out of the state of Florida.
Leatherwood went on to choose to play college football at Alabama for Nick Saban. He chose the Crimson Tide over other pinnacle programs like Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan and Tennessee. Most of all, Leatherwood has received plenty of opportunities at most positions on the offensive line. At Alabama, he has seen action at everything except center. It was a somewhat shocking decision to see him return for his senior season in 2020. During this previous season, Leatherwood started all 13 games.
He and his team of course garnered many accolades during his time there. Overall, Leatherwood is a two time National Champion (2017 and 2020), two time first team All-SEC (2019 and 2020), second team All-SEC (2018), as well as a Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner, Outland Trophy winner and Unanimous All-American all in 2020. In addition, Leatherwood wrote the screenplay for a video in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer of 2020. He appeared in that, along with Coach Saban and his teammates.
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From the jump when watching Leatherwood on tape, his power at the point of attack stands out. He can overpower you with his dense frame and upper body strength. Meanwhile, his lower half is stout, well developed and a big part of him having success when anchoring in pass sets. As simple as it may look, Leatherwood handles some opponents with just one arm, forcing them to react quickly. This occurs more when he his asked to pull or carry to the second level. Many reps where he has been given that chance allows his man blocking and run blocking attempts to shine. Moreover, Leatherwood’s ability to throw stiff, firm punches wear down opponents quickly.
Generally, Leatherwood does a fine job of keeping his head on swivel. The timing may be a bit off at times. However, his reads and diagnoses are swift. Leatherwood erases any sort of late pressure quickly as long as he can find you in space. He is blessed with mammoth length, which has helped when playing tackle. More importantly, it helps him to reach oncoming rushers when his feet may not be able to catch up. His understanding of twists and stunts are noticeable. Leatherwood does not hesitate to help out his interior blocker if the opportunity presents itself, too. Finally, he knows that there is no use in wasting time to chase opposing defenders in no man’s land.
We mentioned earlier that Leatherwood has played everything on the offensive line, except for center. As always, that will be a boost to a player’s draft profile entering the league, rather than a detriment. Leatherwood has the length and smarts to play at tackle. At guard, there is a perfect fit for his power and lower body strength. Teams should be open to trying him at any spot, because he has dominated anywhere he has played. The best thing for Leatherwood as well, is that he can develop through his deficiencies with the tests that either of the spots bring.
This is the smallest issue of all his possible areas of improvement. He has smooth shuffles and movement skills while in his pass sets. Nonetheless, Leatherwood has been hit or miss with his timing on his punches. He plays with an urgent blocking style. Though, this gives pass rushers who know how to use their leverage a boon. How? Leatherwood plays too top heavy at times, giving defenders openings to bend or swim around him. The chest can be left open when Leatherwood tries to push his arms above his shoulders. As a result, his body control can go haywire.
His strong lower half makes him tough to beat in close alignments. But, his results are up and down when out in space. Alabama asked him to cut opponents down low, for example. Too many times Leatherwood either whiffed or barely made contact. His short area quickness and eagerness can also can get him in trouble. Becoming fixated on swift moving defenders in the open field, he can get in the way of the opening lane. This forces teammates carrying the ball to have to change direction. Elsewhere, there are reps where Leatherwood is too slow to react, despite playing with a largely hot motor.
This is easily the biggest area of improvement to work through for Leatherwood. There are reps where he relies too much on his lower half to overpower opponents. Meaning, he can turn into a reacher or lunger, not being able to reach his spot needed to make the clean block. Leatherwood is a vicious and punishing blocker. However, this can result in a bit of over anxiousness. His balance is simply lost. With this in mind, some teams may prefer to play him at guard. The bottom line will be, can Leatherwood learn to panic less when blocks become tricky? If so, the All-American can become a complete prospect on the offensive line.
Recent additions to the offensive line on the Kansas City Chiefs fit the mold of what Alex Leatherwood is. Currently, possessing an innate ability to play multiple spots would help Andy Reid‘s team immensely. As good as Leatherwood can be as a technical blocker, his power is what is needed more in KC. Not only is he a mostly clean blocker in pass protection, Leatherwood has proven to be dominant in run blocking reps. In addition the length and anchor he brings can lead to positive results against multiple defensive players and fronts. The Chiefs also would not hesitate to add a player with his knowledge to the blocking unit. Having Mitchell Schwartz out with an injury for much of 2020, took a large chunk of that away from Kansas City. Most of all, Leatherwood is the kind of tenacious player that the team needs to protect Patrick Mahomes.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs draft prospect profiles throughout the winter and spring. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.