Chicago Bears improve offensive line, claim Alex Leatherwood

Chicago Bears (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /

Considering the lack of depth on the Chicago Bears offensive line, Ryan Poles knew there was work to be done in order to have a decent product on the field this season.

After the 2022 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears offensive line was average at best, however, after moves made in the offseason and the draft combined, the group looks slightly above average.

Now, however, Ryan Poles adds a potential needle-mover in Alex Leatherwood.

Chicago Bears claim Alex Leatherwood off waivers

Leatherwood was a former first-round pick for the Las Vegas Raiders, and though his time with the Raiders was lackluster, the trial date wasn’t very long.

Alex Leatherwood was part of the 2021 NFL Draft, so to say the Raiders cut ties too soon could be seen as a major understatement if he ends up being even above average.

Now, claiming Alex Leatherwood doesn’t immediately mean the Chicago Bears are going to win the Super Bowl, however, it’s a move that really doesn’t have a losing side.

Per Ian Rapoport, the Bears take on what’s left of Leatherwood’s contract — 3-years and $5.9M guaranteed. If it works out, the Bears get a rather team-friendly deal for a starting offensive lineman, specifically an offensive tackle.

Once again, Ryan Poles shows that he does care about Justin Fields and his progression.

What is the downside of claiming Alex Leatherwood? His rookie season was, well, not great.

In 1,104 offensive snaps, Leatherwood gave up eight sacks and was penalized 14 times. Along with that, he earned a 45.0 PFF Grade; and while those grades aren’t necessarily that important, it’s a little more consistent with offensive linemen.

However, similar to how players on the Jaguars under Urban Meyer shouldn’t be looked at the same as other players are, the same should be said for Jon Gruden‘s Raiders.

Even if it wasn’t a full season with Gruden, there was so much going on that Leatherwood shouldn’t be the sole proprietor of blame.

Was Alex Leatherwood a first-round talent? Most likely not, but getting him as a waiver claim should be solely seen as a win for Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears.

Leatherwood stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 312-pounds, so he’s certainly built to be an NFL offensive lineman. Along with his size, he was an integral part of the Alabama Crimson Tide, as he was awarded the 2020 John Outland Trophy while also being a 2020 Consensus All-American.

At the NFL Combine, Alex Leatherwood showed off his athleticism by running a 4.96 40-yard dash, a 34.5-inch vertical, and a broad jump of 118-inches.

Ryan Poles has a clear type, and that’s high-end athletes.

At least according to RAS, Alex Leatherwood falls under the category of a higher-end athlete.

Even though his rookie season was far from ideal, there are plenty of examples of rookies turning their careers around after their first season.

There might even be one of those on the Chicago Bears right now, *cough cough* Justin Fields and Teven Jenkins *cough cough*.

Ryan Poles has made it clear that he looks for young, athletic players with tenacity, and that’s what Alex Leatherwood is. His potential is high, and even if he doesn’t reach it, little was lost.

Next. 5 roster cuts Bears should add to roster. dark

This is one of those moves that, looking back on it, could be paramount in making the Chicago Bears a truly competitive team in the NFC.

Plus, if he stinks, it’s not like the Bears sent a haul for him; they claimed him off waivers after his rookie season.