The Jets seem locked in on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the second overall pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, but there’s plenty of intrigue as to which way the team might lean with their No. 23 pick.
Meanwhile, the Giants have a chance to land a real difference-maker with their 11th overall selection as they continue to rebuild.
With the draft approaching, let’s take an in-depth look at some potential options for the Jets and Giants. Here’s a look at USC guard/tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker…
By the Numbers
Weight: 308 pounds
40-yard dash: 5.10 seconds (USC Pro Day)
Vertical jump: 32 inches (USC Pro Day)
Accolades & Awards: 2019 All-Pac 12 Second Team, 2019 USC Offensive Lineman of the Year
NFL.com: Ascending wide-body with powerful hands and above-average core strength, allowing him to play with good balance and control the action around him. He's not a forklift-style drive blocker, but he does have the frame and natural strength to improve in that area if he can play with a little better pad level. Vera-Tucker is adept at catching and tagging moving targets in space. His effective play at left tackle in 2020 might create some buzz about him making that a permanent position if teams are OK with his lack of prototype length. He's a plus in pass pro and solid as a run blocker.
The Draft Network: Alijah Vera-Tucker has aligned predominantly at left tackle this season for the Trojans offense. He has exceptional athleticism, as evidenced by his balance and body control in his pass set. He is an easy mover who demonstrates his athleticism in the passing game, particularly in his kick slide. He plays with very good competitiveness when he is bull rushed. In the run game, he comes off the ball hard to strike and he excels by getting his body in favorable positions. He’s played this year at left tackle, affording him much more value due to his ability to play that position in a pinch at the next level.
Why Vera-Tucker makes sense for Giants
Dave Gettleman loves his Hog Mollies, right? Vera-Tucker might not be the fan favorite choice at pick 11, but with the versatility to play both guard and tackle, he could make a lot of sense as Big Blue looks to protect Daniel Jones and pave the way for Saquon Barkley off last year’s knee injury.
After releasing Kevin Zeitler this offseason, the Giants seem to have an open spot available at the starting right guard position. But the makeup of the line is a question in general with Nate Solder returning after sitting out last season. Solder and Matt Peart will likely battle for the starting right tackle spot, but a player like Vera-Tucker could theoretically make a push to start at tackle as well.
Simply put, there’s not a lot set in stone on the Giants’ offensive lineup outside of Andrew Thomas and Will Hernandez, so a versatile piece like Vera-Tucker could be a huge boost in the trenches.
Why Vera-Tucker makes sense for Jets
General manager Joe Douglas has said time and time again that fixing the Jets’ offensive line is a huge priority, and while he made some moves last offseason to try to address the holes up front, there’s still a lot to be desired from the Gang Green line.
Mekhi Becton looks to be the left tackle of the future, but elsewhere up front things are a little bleak, especially at the guard spots. Between starting guards Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten, neither inspired much confidence in 2020. As a result, the Jets were reportedly in on free agent Joe Thuney before he signed in Kansas City.
After not landing a stud guard in free agency, the Jets still need to upgrade the spot, and Vera-Tucker could be a great fit. He may not fall to pick No. 23, though there’s no telling how things will play out once teams are on the clock. The Jets could entertain trading back up, or could come away with a steal if the USC product drops to No. 23.
NFL.com: Will Hernandez
Walter Football: Kelechi Osemele