One of the New York Jets’ most significant recent additions was the draft pick of Alijah Vera-Tucker. The team traded up to get him in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft. At the time when the team drafted him, Vera-Tucker was making a position change for the third year in a row. At USC, he played left guard in 2019 and left tackle in 2020. When the Jets drafted him, Vera-Tucker became the starting left guard.
As a rookie, Vera-Tucker had a very solid start to his career. He made his impact felt on occasion in a big way in the running game. Vera-Tucker started 16 games and played 1,026 snaps in his first year. Overall, his rookie season gave great reason for optimism moving forward.
Entering the 2022 offseason, it was expected that the Jets would look to bolster their offensive line with a guard addition. However, most anticipated it would be a right guard already having Vera-Tucker at left.
The Jets went on to sign 2021 Pro-Bowler Laken Tomlinson very early in free agency to a big three-year contract. With Tomlinson on the older side and having spent the last five years of his career in the system, the Jets opted to move Vera-Tucker to the right. Considering Vera-Tucker’s versatility and youth, it makes sense.
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Growing comfortability with the move
The key is simply getting acclimated on the opposite side, which Vera-Tucker recently spoke on. In an interview with Senior Jets reporter Eric Allen, Vera-Tucker discussed making another position change. Vera-Tucker started by speaking about his excitement about the Tomlinson addition. He highlighted Tomlinson’s Super Bowl experience, Pro Bowl 2021, and years spent in the offensive system.
Vera-Tucker brought up his versatility and how that makes him valued by the Jets. He stated that improving as a pass blocker is his biggest point of emphasis to help Zach Wilson. Then, on the position move, Vera-Tucker stated, “I’m starting to feel more comfortable at right guard.” When asked by Allen what changes with the move, Vera-Tucker said, “Flipping the plays in my head. After about two weeks of OTAs, I’ve pretty much got that down by now.” Certainly, very encouraging to hear.
Vera-Tucker is one of the more crucial players to the Jets’ future. His success on the offensive line will only help Wilson as he enters a pivotal year two. As long as Vera-Tucker is feeling confident at right guard, he has the talent, toughness, and mentality to be a great Jet for a long time.