The NY Jets went into the offseason looking to upgrade their offensive line in a big way. And although they struck out in free agency, they managed to make a major splash in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft with the selection of Alijah Vera-Tucker.
The Jets viewed Vera-Tucker as a top-10 player in the entire class, but they knew they weren't going to be able to snag him with their second pick in the first round at 23rd overall.
That's why they opted to trade up to 14 to select a player they believe could help anchor their offensive line for years to come. As thus far, they've been impressed.
As told by ESPN's Rich Cimini, "the early returns on first-round pick Alijah Vera-Tucker are extremely positive." The Jets liked what they saw from the young lineman at USC.
And they love what they've seen so far this spring.
The NY Jets are already impressed with the play of Alijah Vera-Tucker.
Cimini did insist that it's still early, of course. And it's nearly impossible to accurately gauge offensive line play in practices without pads. Still, the Jets remain very high on the former USC star.
And as Cimini says, he may already be "the best offensive lineman on the team." That isn't hyperbole.
Vera-Tucker will be asked to start from day one as the team's left guard. The 22-year-old played both guard and tackle in college, but most scouts saw him as a better fit inside in the NFL.
His combination of incredible athleticism and NFL-ready technique led many to grade him as the best guard prospect in the entire draft. The Jets clearly felt that was the case when they traded up nine slots to select him last April.
Vera-Tucker will line up alongside 2020 first-round pick Mekhi Becton providing the Jets with two young, high-upside linemen manning the left side of the offensive line.
The Jets selected Becton and Vera-Tucker in consecutive drafts marking the first time the organization has drafted offensive linemen in the first round in back-to-back years since the 1977 and 1978 drafts.
Of course, this isn't including the 2006 NFL Draft when the Jets added both D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold in the same first round. They'll certainly be hoping that Becton and Vera-Tucker work out as well as their predecessors did.
The early returns on Alijah Vera-Tucker are promising. He'll look to continue impressing when the pads go on for training camp.