The Chicago Bears have filed seven waiver wire claims in the past week, easily their most in years. Maybe forever. GM Ryan Poles made it clear that he’s not going to sit idly by trying to make this roster better. When he senses an opportunity, he swoops in. There are some exciting pickups in the group. Defensive tackle Armon Watts should immediately improve their inside passing speed. Ihmir Smith-Marsette is another quick catcher with the ability to pass back. However, most of the buzz has focused on Alex Leatherwood.
This is not surprising. The 17th overall pick in the 2021 draft was supposed to be a regular for the Las Vegas Raiders. Now, after a rough rookie season (67 pressures allowed), he’s been cut by the new regime for failing to find a trading partner. No one expected the team to waive him because of his rookie contract. So when the Bears picked him up, it was a real surprise. Pole and head coach Matt Eberflus lists his size, strength and athleticism as excellent qualities to explore.
According to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus, others around the NFL believe there is another key reason.
“Chicago also has enough question marks on their offensive line that we could eventually see Alex Leatherwood get some minutes this season. Chicago’s plan is Considered a better fit for Leatherwood Better than the one in Las Vegas, according to people in the league. “
2. Alex Leatherwood
Think about this. The man who coached him in Vegas was Tom Cable.
Below is the total number of dismissals his unit has waived since 2011.
It may be that Leatherwood has the wrong person to oversee his development. #Bear
— Erik Lambert (@ErikLambert1) September 2, 2022
Alex Leatherwood checks three important boxes.
Luke Gacy’s new wide offense requires smart, athletic offensive linemen who can run well. Those were Leatherwood’s strengths during his time at Alabama. This system will allow him to move and use this natural force to drive defenders off the ball. It should immediately make him more comfortable. The tricky part for the Bears is finding a way to fix the flaws that were exposed last season.
Clearly, Alex Leatherwood has serious technical deficiencies in pass protection. His fighting is very inconsistent, and to make matters worse, he tends to lean forward, making it easy for seasoned pass rushers to throw him off balance. The Raiders didn’t give him much last year, often putting him in more one-on-one situations than most tacklers in the league.
The big question is where the Bears plan to hit him. It looks like they’ll explore tackles and defenders to see where he fits best. Las Vegas moved him inside last October. After a rough first two months, he did seem to be settling down a bit in December outside of a poor game against Denver. Bad starts to careers are not uncommon. In time, Leatherwood could still be a capable NFL player.
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