NFL Draft: 3 first-round picks who have been a letdown so far

Las Vegas Raiders tackle Alex Leatherwood. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Las Vegas Raiders tackle Alex Leatherwood. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports /
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NFL Draft
Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (99) and defensive end Joey Bosa (97) battle against Las Vegas Raiders offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood (70). Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2021 rookie class has produced some terrific performances early this season, but these three former NFL Draft picks have been a bit of a letdown. 

A decade ago, it didn’t seem like there were many NFL teams who asked their rookies to step in and play prominent roles from the gate. Young draft picks were given time to develop in the film room and the weight room before being thrown to the wolves.

However, in today’s NFL, rookies are being asked to make an impact for their team sooner than ever before — particularly first-round picks. Sadly, not all NFL Draft prospects have an easy time with this transition. Here are three players who have been a bit disappointing so far:

Raiders OT Alex Leatherwood

There were many questions and various opinions about former Alabama offensive lineman, Alex Leatherwood, prior to the 2021 NFL Draft. Taking one look at Leatherwood with his solid core, long arms, and muscular physique, you would think he would have the makings to be a 10-year starter at offensive tackle in the NFL. However, the film tells you otherwise.

At the Senior Bowl, Leatherwood was torched by speed rushers and his footwork is quite lumbering for a player who tested as a terrific athlete at his Pro Day. So far in 2021, his weaknesses have been on full display.

Leatherwood has churned out a dismal 31.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus — worst among offensive tackles and one of the worst grades among all qualifying rookies. He has been adequate as a run blocker but has struggled mightily in pass protection this year. Raiders fans are begging to see more from their 17th-overall pick.