2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Alijah Vera-Tuckerby Mason Thompson January 14, 2021 2 comments
Before the 2020 season, Alijah Vera-Tucker had opted out before the season and was focusing on the 2021 draft. Upon learning that the PAC-12 would be playing, he returned to USC and made the transition from left guard to left tackle, due to Austin Jackson being selected in the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. Vera-Tucker has made a vast move up draft boards recently as he has the versatility to play both guard and tackle, something that is becoming more important in the NFL today.
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Name: Alijah Vera-Tucker
Class: Redshirt Junior
Weight: 300 lbs
Pass Blocking (6.75/10)
When Vera-Tucker was left alone on an island as the left tackle in 2020, it didn’t end too well. He wasn’t good against speed rushers as they would use their bend to go right around him and sack Kedon Slovis. He does have a good kick slide in maneuvering his way back from the line of scrimmage. When rushers try diving inside, Vera-Tucker has some issues.
Run Blocking (8.75/10)
Vera-Tucker is by far a better run blocker than pass blocker. He was an interior player throughout his first few years in college before 2020, and it was his strong suit, as Vera-Tucker is a big man in the run game that can move people with ease.
In the run game, he can move to the second level easily. In the passing game, his athleticism is a bit of a worry, as he was beaten by speed rushers often, especially in 2020 at his tackle spot.
You won’t see Vera-Tucker on the ground often. He doesn’t get blown off the line of scrimmage by defenders, and he is quick and nimble on his feet in the run game. In the passing game, he can get caught off guard by some inside moves by the defenders.
He wasn’t plowed through by opposing defenders. He can move people out of the way in an instant and run them to the turf. After doing so, he can move to the second level and do the same to a linebacker.
Vera-Tucker can keep his hands inside in the run game. In the passing game, he tends to have his hands on the outside shoulders, resulting in holding calls that shouldn’t happen. Once on the shoulders, he grabs, and the refs immediately see that, even if Vera-Tucker lets go.
He’s similar to Rashawn Slater (You can read our report on Slater here.) in a way that both can play on the interior and as a tackle at the next level depending on the scheme they’re in. Slater can likely play all five spots, while Vera-Tucker can play both guard or tackle spots. He wasn’t exceptional as a tackle in 2020, but the time he played there will be valuable to teams in the NFL.
Football IQ (9.25/10)
Vera-Tucker has a fairly expanded football knowledge. He has played multiple positions on the offensive line now and now knows how each plays a factor in the offensive playcalling. As a tackle, he now understands and can identify some of the pass-rush moves that defenders make.
Vera-Tucker is a mauler. He moves people out of the way of the play and can move up to the next level after shucking a defensive lineman to the ground. He consistently wins reps in the run game by just plowing people out of the way.
Competitive Toughness (5/5)
He is a mauler in the run game and will drive you into the ground and then give one last hit when the defender is on the ground. He made the transition from left guard to left tackle to help his team.
Vera-Tucker had a hamstring issue, which drastically impacted his performance against Kavon Thibodeaux.
Before viewing the tape, I wondered why Vera-Tucker hasn’t been talked about as much as Slater has. After viewing, some discrepancies in Vera-Tucker’s game put my original thoughts to rest. While he does have the experience as a tackle, he is best suited as a guard in the NFL. Some run-first teams would be wise to select him in the back of the first round to be their starting guard to pave the way for their running backs. A team like Kansas City would be wise to use their first-round selection on Vera-Tucker.
Final Grade (85.75/100): Early-Second Round