The Chicago Bears pulled the biggest shocker of final roster cuts when they claimed Alex Leatherwood off waivers. Nobody expected the former 1st round pick to get picked up due to his hefty rookie contract that would be fully guaranteed to any team that took him. The Bears did it anyway. They have loads of cap space to work with, and Leatherwood is only 23 years old. It seems they think the risk is worth it. Matt Eberflus offered clarification on this.
He explained two reasons the Bears felt confident they could succeed where the Raiders failed with Leatherwood. First was knowledge of the player. Eberflus got an endorsement from former Las Vegas coach Rod Marinelli about the big offensive lineman. The same went for assistant coaches Austin King (assistant O-line) and Travis Smith (defensive line), who worked directly with Leatherwood last year as part of the Raiders staff.
All gave strong endorsements of the player and the person. Eberflus also revealed they liked some things they saw on tape, particularly his run-blocking. He seems confident that offensive line coach Chris Morgan will give the young lineman the proper teaching he needs to reach his potential.
Matt Eberflus trusts the ability of his staff to teach.
He cited that as their primary strength from the moment he took over. He wanted a group of coaches that understood how to teach the game of football. If players wanted to reach the heights of their profession, they would need to understand why things were done in certain ways. Find the whys. Matt Nagy talked about the same thing, but his problem was he was a poor teacher. Leatherwood is in far better hands.
Morgan has many years of NFL experience under his belt. He’s inherited faulty 1st round picks before. Jake Matthews had a brutal rookie year in Atlanta with 51 pressures and seven sacks allowed. Morgan cleaned him up in 2015 and had the young tackle in the Pro Bowl by 2018. Ability isn’t an issue with Leatherwood. He’s big, strong, and athletic. Coaches and scouts alike laud his intelligence.
His issues are technical. He has several bad fundamental habits that defenders fully exploited last season. Matt Eberflus knows those must be cleaned up. It will take time, and the Bears are willing to give it to him. If Leatherwood accepts the challenge, he could resurrect his career in Chicago.
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