Alijah Vera-Tucker is off to a revered start
Back in April, New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas traded two third-round picks along with the 23rd overall selection to move up nine slots and select guard Alijah Vera-Tucker with the 14th pick.
At the time, many thought the Jets overpaid. One of the most vocal critics of the trade was ESPN Sports Analytics Writer, Seth Walder. A day after the selection, Walder sent out a tweet that proposed the deal as a candidate for one of the worst trades of the draft.
Worst trade of the draft?
Tough call between Jets' trade up for Alijah Vera-Tucker and Texans' trade up for Nico Collins.
Jets pick was costlier (and for a guard), but Houston's was a total outlier in terms of cost given where in draft it occurred.
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) May 2, 2021
Despite some backlash, Douglas defended the move, calling Vera-Tucker “a top-10 player” in the draft class.
Now halfway through the season, Vera-Tucker has lived up to Douglas’ billing. On Thursday, he was selected to Pro Football Focus’ Midseason All-Rookie Team.
“Vera-Tucker got off to a bit of a slow start, but he has looked like a Pro Bowl-caliber guard of late,” writes Michael Renner of PFF. “After allowing 12 pressures in his first three games, the former USC star has allowed only seven in his last four. He’s earned a 76.0 overall grade for the season.”
Since Week 4, Vera-Tucker ranks top-12 among guards in PFF’s overall, pass block, and run block grades. Not only that, but Vera-Tucker is the Jets’ highest-graded player at any position so far.
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The 14th overall selection has dominated in the run game all season, and his elite pass blocking ability has come to the forefront in recent weeks. His most dominant all-around performance came in Week 5 against the Falcons, as he posted an overall PFF grade of 92.4, which was good for first in the NFL out of all linemen that week.
Once the Jets get left tackle Mekhi Becton back from injured reserve, the left side of the offensive line has the potential to become a top duo in the league for years to come.
Vera-Tucker is the only Jet on PFF’s Midseason All-Rookie Team, but he was joined by five AFC East rivals:
- Bills EDGE Gregory Rousseau
- Patriots QB Mac Jones
- Patriots DT Christian Barmore
- Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle
- Dolphins S Jevon Holland