2021 NFL Draft Profile: Does Alex Leatherwood fit Chicago Bears?

Chicago Bears (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Alex Leatherwood was a five-star prospect who continued his ascent at powerhouse Alabama. Leatherwood was considered a top 10 prospect in the country and the top tackle as well. From there, he became a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide. Leatherwood played at right guard in 2018 but spent 2019 and 2020 at left tackle.

With versatility and experience on the offensive line, how does Alex Leatherwood stack up in the 2021 NFL draft?

Areas of Alex Leatherwood game that will translate well to the NFL

The first thing you notice with Leatherwood is his arms. There is no doubt about his length, as he is able to reach, and strike at distances that are surprising at times. You can see his length on the display in the play below, where he is able to control the pass rusher’s path with a stab to the inside of his chest. This is a respected pass rusher from Georgia.

Leatherwood also plays with an edge of physicality. He is a punishing blocker, and he plays every snap with an edge to finish each and every block. You can see him celebrating pancakes, and working to get his hands on linebackers throughout the play.

From high school to pedigree to Alabam you also get a clean prospect who has experience in big games but also has the repetition and motion down to get into his pass sets with ease. Leatherwood is more of a downhill, power run blocker, but his combination of length and consistency make him a trusted pass blocker.

Areas of concern for Alex Leatherwood entering the NFL

Alex Leatherwood lives off of his length, size, and technique and is not the most fleet of foot. He is much less of a fit for teams implementing zone blocking. Pass rushers who use a quick outside step can get him to commit to his anchor, and beat him to the inside. In that area, Leatherwood is slow to transition.

You can also see below that when Leatherwood was able to get his hands on the talented Georgia pass rusher, he was keeping him in control.

However, he got the better of Leatherwood multiple times with quick feet. This play was a clear turning the corner by being the better athlete. Given his downhill run blocking nature, and slow feet, some have suggested a future is at guard.

Is there an NFL Comparison for Alex Leatherwood entering the 2021 NFL draft?

Perhaps it is just the Alabama pedigree and the helmet doing bias, but I would suspect that even Nick Saban saw similarities between D.J. Fluker and Alex Leatherwood. Fluker was typically a right tackle at Alabama, but the two have long arms that stand out immediately in their pass protection.

They also are both dominant, downhill run blockers. While Fluker is a bit thicker in size, they both have slower feet that lose to counter moves and speed around the edge. Fluker was a first-round pick and started his career at right tackle.

However, a shift into guard extended his career, and he just finished his eighth NFL career. The length, the Alabama pedigree, the potential to fill in at guard, and the dominant run-blocking with a passion to finish runs is what makes D.J. Fluker a player who is comparable to Alex Leatherwood entering the NFL.

Does Alex Leatherwood fit with the Chicago Bears?

Some mock drafts show that Leatherwood will be gone by 20, some show that he will be a player who could drop into round two. It all depends on how you view him. Leatherwood will also be an interesting test for the Chicago Bears, who have typically run outside zone but started to find success moving to more of a power run scheme in 2020.

Adding Leatherwood would show that Matt Nagy is changing his stripes, and taking the best player to help the run game. Playing on the right or left side, and at guard and tackle gives the Bears options as to how they view him or get him on the field, but if they draft him at 20, he is likely to see a start to his career at left tackle.

Is he a player you would take at 20, or get greedy and hope that he falls into round two?