The New York Jets traded up in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft to select Alijah Vera-Tucker. He will play in year two of his career with the Jets at 23 years old. The versatile offensive lineman will be making the move from left guard to right guard this year. Vera-Tucker is a core player for the long-term future of the Jets. He should start to break out in 2022.
Brief review of 2021:
Year one for Vera-Tucker went well. He started 16 games and played 1,026 snaps. His immense upside as a run blocker was on display at various points throughout 2021. As a pass blocker, Vera-Tucker only allowed two sacks. Overall, he did more than enough as a rookie to prove why he was labeled as such a strong draft prospect with significant potential.
Vera-Tucker is a tall guard at 6-foot-4 and has a solid 308-pound frame. Positional flexibility is a top component of what Vera-Tucker offers as a young player. Dating back to college, he has played on both the right and left side as well as both tackle and guard. That versatility is a luxury for the Jets to have available to them.
His athletic ability is terrific. Just last year, in the pre-draft process, Vera-Tucker recorded a fantastic Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.80. All of his times in terms of speed and agility and his explosion scores were great.
Vera-Tucker offers exceptional play strength as well. He has a mauling, finishers presence as a blocker. It shows up in the running game and when he is out in space on screens.
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Projected role and 2022 expectations:
As noted, Vera-Tucker will now be at right guard. The key for him will simply be gaining experience with time and repetition. He has a year of experience in Mike LaFleur’s offense, so Vera-Tucker knows the scheme and terminology. This summer, just gaining more reps on the right side should help his comfortability.
As a run blocker, continued success from last year and even more moments of dominance from Vera-Tucker should come. In the passing game, with a year under his belt, Vera-Tucker should show growth. He has all the physical and athletic attributes to do so. He allowed two sacks last year. Something similar to that in 2022 would be great. Vera-Tucker committed five penalties in 2021. Seeing that amount decrease in year two would be ideal.
Final preview thoughts:
Vera-Tucker has already proven himself to be a good player for the Jets and a viable long-term asset. He has Pro Bowl potential at still such a young age. Vera-Tucker can be one of the Jets’ best players for a long time. In 2022, Vera-Tucker should start to take strides toward being one of the better guards in football for the Jets.