2. Alijah Vera-Tucker, LG, NY Jets
After an organized team activity (OTA) session last May, the Jets' Twitter account tweeted a picture of Alijah Vera-Tucker and Mekhi Becton approaching the line of scrimmage before a play in practice.
Becton responded to the tweet of himself and Vera-Tucker with “Jordan and Pippen!!! Mark my words,” a reference to the dominant basketball duo that won six championships in the 1990s.
However, contrary to the perception of a large portion of the fanbase, Vera-Tucker was the one to fill the Jordan role after Becton suffered a knee injury early in the season.
After a slow start caused by a training camp injury, Vera-Tucker regained the form of the player that has him held in such high acclaim throughout the organization.
Vera-Tucker continued to improve with the rest of the Jets' offensive line throughout the season. Vera-Tucker’s contributions to the unit did not go unnoticed, his strong play earning him a place on the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team.
Vera-Tucker plays a very physical game in the trenches and carries himself with a mean streak when on the field. According to Pro Football Focus, his demeanor is most evident in the run game as he was the second-highest graded run blocker amongst rookie guards.
Vera-Tucker carries himself with the confidence of a player with much more NFL experience than he has, a trait that shows up on film. Nonetheless, the talented young lineman still has areas of his game that he can improve on in his second season.
His pass protection must improve for Vera-Tucker to play to his potential and become a Pro Bowl-caliber player. While he excels in the run game, Vera-Tucker's lack of experience led him to struggle with stunts and blitzes, a common issue for rookies.
If he continues to improve as expected, there is no reason why Vera-Tucker can’t solidify himself as the Jets’ long-term solution at left guard and be among the best interior linemen in the NFL.