When the NY Jets signed Pro Bowl guard Laken Tomlinson in free agency, the assumption was that he would be switching positions. In actuality, it appears as though young guard Alijah Vera-Tucker will be the one moving around instead.
Head coach Robert Saleh spoke to the media on Monday and revealed that Vera-Tucker would be switching from left to right guard while Tomlinson would slot in as the team's new starting left guard.
This directly conflicts with reports that emerged shortly following the Tomlinson signing that suggested the former 49ers' lineman would be switching to right guard for the first time in his career.
Evidently, that won't be the case. And in reality, it's probably for the best.
The NY Jets are making the right move with Alijah Vera-Tucker and Laken Tomlinson
It always seemed a little surprising that Tomlinson was the one expected to move when the Jets signed him given that the 30-year-old has played exclusively left guard during his seven-year NFL career.
It's not that he has no experience playing right guard, though. In fact, he made 52 consecutive starts at right guard in college, but he hasn't played the position since 2014.
Meanwhile, he's established himself as one of the better left guards in football and is coming off a Pro Bowl 2021 season. Why mess with a winning formula?
As for Vera-Tucker, he put together an impressive rookie season and it generally isn't wise to move young offensive linemen around a ton early in their careers. However, this isn't anything new for Vera-Tucker.
The 22-year-old played right guard in 2018, mostly as a backup, but he's used to being moved around. He spent 2018 as USC's primary backup right guard, became the starting left guard in 2019, was moved to left tackle in 2020, and was then shifted back inside to left guard as a rookie in 2021.
This will mark Vera-Tucker's fifth consecutive season that he will predominantly be playing a position he didn't play the prior year. While that's never an ideal situation, he's proven that he's more than up to the challenge.
The Jets are asking a lot of Alijah Vera-Tucker early in his career, but switching his position was ultimately the wiser decision given the circumstances.