Former New York Jets scout slams guard Alijah Vera-Tucker
By all accounts, New York offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker has had a strong rookie season.
Then I turned on the game movie and came away less than impressed with the Jets’ 2021 first-round pick (pick No. 14).
Every player on the roster is either part of the problem or part of the solution on a 4-13 team, which was the Jets’ record last season.
Looking at the big picture, New York’s offensive line as a whole gave up the fourth-most sacks in the league (53) and their run blocking produced a No. 25 ranking (96.1 yards per match).
Vera-Tucker was part of the problem.
It made the pocket too uncomfortable in overtaking situations, and its run blocking left a lot to be desired.
People like to point out that Vera-Tucker gave up two sacks as a rookie and tries to convince everyone he was so great, based on that fact. However, additional stats paint a much grimmer and more realistic picture of his rookie season.
Vera Tucker abandoned 34 presses and six keys in pass protection. To put that into perspective, Vera-Tucker gave up pressure on 6.1% of his pass protection shots, which class #51 of 65 trained guards.
Winning offensive lines have an attitude that says, “We’re going to punch you harder in the mouth than you punch us in the mouth,” and I don’t see it in Vera-Tucker’s behavior at all.
On the contrary, he was bullied too often.
Vera-Tucker is one of those classic athletic finesse guards who plays the game like it doesn’t really matter to him.
What do I mean by that?
Vera-Tucker doesn’t often finish his blocks and he does just enough to get by, which is sometimes enough, but not always.
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Not all offensive linemen need to be aggressive maulers to win. Some get the job done with exceptional technique, athleticism, and an understanding of the art of leverage.
The problem is, Vera-Tucker isn’t elite in any of the aforementioned categories.
Vera-Tucker didn’t remotely look like a first-round talent on a game movie. He played like a fourth-round talent and a borderline starter for the bottom half of the league.
Ranking Alijah Vera-Tucker
6 feet 5 inches, 308 pounds
2021 Game Movie Reviewed: (9/26) DEN, (11/28) HOU and (12/12) NO
Rating: C- (average; nothing special about the player)
Clever, long-armed finesse guard who does the minimum and seems overwhelmed with power. He looks stocky and the body is disproportionate. Tends to set in and fall too deep initially. Uses its size and long arms as an obstacle. Use your hands well. Below average anchoring, which collapses the pocket and allows pressure to be put on the quarterback’s face too often. Sensitive to rough rushes. Can be caught off guard by speed in its shortcomings. Has below average playing strength. Half the time does the job and the other half the time it gives way too much. May give up too soon and give up the pressure that way. Excels against spinning moves and shows intelligence by constantly picking up stunts and plays efficiently. Good on combo blocks. Doesn’t look good on screen happening in space. On the slopes, he really struggles to keep his head up. Just doesn’t have the pure power to dominate against the big men on the inside. Below average online blocking. Excellent in short areas pulling on the perimeters. Hits and misses the farther he gets from the line of scrimmage due to average game speed. Inconsistent at the second level. Overall, his guy tackled or was in position too often. Better when he has leverage or just hits it. Failing to see benefits due to lack of potency and demonstrated lackadaisical behavior.
With the offseason addition of free agent left guard Laken Tomlinson, Vera-Tucker is sliding to right guard. Luckily, he’s used to being versatile and playing on the right side since his college days at USC, so the change won’t be unfamiliar to him.
However, no matter where he lines up, the Jets can’t win with him.
Vera-Tucker is a sweet soccer player.
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