LAKE FOREST – The Bears had been the one NFL workforce to place in a waiver declare for offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood following his launch from the Las Vegas Raiders.
The No. 17 general choose within the 2021 NFL Draft struggled at proper sort out throughout his rookie season earlier than the Silver and Black moved him inside to protect. He fared nicely on the inside, however with a brand new regime coming on this offseason, Leatherwood was let go after a subpar preseason that had head coach Josh McDaniels calling for him to work on his fundamentals and approach.
The addition of Leatherwood makes a ton of sense for a Bears workforce looking for as a lot expertise as they’ll discover.
Leatherwood is a bodily specimen with a excessive soccer IQ who can play inside and out of doors. Leatherwood labored at proper sort out in his first observe with the Bears on Thursday, however Bears basic supervisor Ryan Poles stated they like that Leatherwood performs a number of positions.
Just like the Bears did after they acquired N’Keal Harry, Poles hopes his teaching employees, led by offensive line coach Chris Morgan, can assist Leatherwood polish the perimeters and attain the potential he confirmed at Alabama.
“I believe the large factor goes again, gifted participant, bodily gifted for certain,” Poles stated of Leatherwood on Thursday. “Prototype in his measurement and motion. After which by way of like success with him right here, I believe all of us consider in participant improvement right here, and we have put items in place to permit gamers to be their greatest selves. So, we’ll method that in many various methods, and we’ll give him a chance to develop and develop. Neglect the draft choose factor. That is over.
“So, let’s begin from the bottom ground. Let’s construct you up and take your time and no matter that’s, we need to put him in the very best place to succeed. Chris Morgan and his employees and everybody round, from the load room, we’ll give it every thing we have got.”
Leatherwood was dealt a awful hand in Las Vegas.
Getting into the draft, Leatherwood was broadly considered as a second-round expertise who must shift inside to protect to thrive within the NFL. However Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and basic supervisor Mike Mayock made a behavior of reaching for want within the first spherical, particularly for guys from blue blood packages, and did the identical with Leatherwood.
The Raiders surprised everybody after they drafted Leatherwood in the course of the primary spherical.
Slot choice apart, the 2021 Raiders had been surrounded by turmoil. Leatherwood was thrown into the hearth instantly at proper sort out and requested to supply when he ought to have been given time to sit down and develop. As a substitute, Leatherwood put collectively a string of poor performances at proper sort out earlier than shifting inside.
With Gruden fired midseason and Mayock canned after it, Leatherwood discovered himself within the precarious place of being labeled a first-round “bust” with a brand new coach and basic supervisor coming in.
McDaniels and basic supervisor Dave Ziegler noticed all they wanted in the course of the offseason program and coaching camp and moved on from Leatherwood on cut-down day.
The Bears snapped up Leatherwood, and he arrived round midnight Thursday morning. He took his bodily and was on the sphere along with his new teammates earlier than midday.
“It has been thrilling,” Leatherwood stated. “Simply having the ability to have a brand new alternative, come to a brand new metropolis, I am tremendous excited concerning the future.”
It is sensible for Leatherwood to work at proper sort out, at the very least initially. Riley Reiff has been the backup left sort out, however the second-string proper sort out spot has been open since Teven Jenkins moved to proper guard. Leatherwood’s versatility will assist give the Bears a depth choice at each sort out and guard.
Coming in with restricted time to be taught the Bears’ system does not hassle Leatherwood, who’s assured he could make an affect within the wide-zone assault.
“I really feel like I will match nicely,” Leatherwood stated. “I am sturdy and quick. I really feel like it doesn’t matter what it’s, I will simply give my greatest effort to do it. Does not matter what the scheme is.”
Leatherwood stated he would not put a timeline on when he shall be in control and able to contribute.
That is superb. With Jenkins grabbing the right guard spot and Larry Borom showing to have a deal with on the proper sort out job, the Bears can afford to be affected person with Leatherwood as Morgan builds him into the very best model of himself.