Alijah Vera-Tucker’s film showcases incredible potential that made him worthy of the New York Jets trading up to nab him at No. 14.
The New York Jets entered the 2021 NFL draft with some massive needs, one of the biggest being a guard to protect the quarterback that presumably would be taken at No. 2 overall.
Pick No. 2 came and went. The Jets selected their new franchise quarterback (hopefully) in BYU’s Zach Wilson. Now, they desperately needed a player to plug in on the interior of the offensive line to help protect him.
Joe Douglas and company evaluated their draft board as the night went on. When they saw Alijah Vera-Tucker (AVT) available at pick No. 14, which was owned by the Minnesota Vikings, they had to make a move.
The Jets viewed AVT as a top 10 player on their board and weighed trading up for him versus what players could fall to pick No. 23. The Jets showed conviction, making an aggressive yet smart decision to trade up. Douglas traded No. 23 overall along with two third-round picks in exchange for the Minnesota Vikings’ No. 14 overall pick and a late fourth-rounder, showing Jet fans that he wouldn’t repeat his predecessor’s mistake of failing to build around his rookie QB.
The Jets then selected AVT, the consensus best guard in the draft. He also offers versatility as he has played LT, LG and RG. AVT is viewed as a very safe prospect but also has an All-Pro ceiling.
AVT projects to start at left guard next to Douglas’ first-ever draft pick in Mekhi Becton, again showing off Douglas’ dedication to the offensive line.
What does AVT offer? Does he have what it takes to be a Pro Bowl level guard? Where does he need to improve?
Let’s take a look at some plays showcasing AVT’s major strengths and weaknesses. Below, after the clips, you will find a full list of strengths and weaknesses and a video episode of Blewett’s Blitz where I break down AVT’s film.
USC runs a lead outside zone, AVT (LG) is going to cheat to the second level as he needs to meet the LB, so he can’t check the 1 tech (tight) for the center. AVT releases off of the line on a straight line to the linebackers outside peck, something that new Jets offensive line coach John Benton calls catch hand reach (CHR).
As AVT closes ground the linebacker tries to undercut the block to get to the RB. AVT uses his “catch hand” (right hand here), which lands in its ideal spot under the armpit of the LB. That catch hand allows AVT to catch the LB and flips his hips to get back on the block to hold up the LB. Smooth flip of the hip as he “pop” steps with the left to slow himself down. Then drives off of the inn step to completely open his hips while also generating force into the LB.
AVT also gets his left hand into the rib, maintains good leverage, and uses lift force while rolling his hips to move the LB inside.