University of Southern California graduate Alijah Vera-Tucker is one of the hottest offensive line prospects heading into this year's 2021 NFL Draft. The multi-talented USC standout proved to be a real force in the college game, and big things are expected of him once he makes it to the NFL.
Because of his diverse skill set, Vera Tucker is likely to be featured high up on most teams' draft boards next month. But what type of player is he? At what point in the draft is he likely to leave the board, and which franchise is likely to call his number?
Let's take a look.
What type of player is NFL Draft prospect Alijah Vera-Tucker?
The best word to describe Alijah Vera-Tucker is versatile. The USC talent has proven himself as an exemplary, athletic blocker in both high school and college. He can practically play in any position across the offensive line, and he is also an adept weapon on the defensive line.
There aren't all that many multi-skilled and malleable offensive linemen in the game of football, but Vera-Tucker is certainly one of them.
Just as strong as he is athletic, Vera-Tucker possesses a natural ability to read the game, too. In support of the run, Vera-Tucker gets out to the second level to aid his backs, and he has the athleticism needed to hold off even the biggest interior defensive lineman. As a result, he creates extra time in the pocket for his quarterback.
Vera-Tucker's body control is first class, too. He is rarely pushed back, and when he is, he recovers well. For a big man, his balance is quite impressive.
How did Vera-Tucker perform in college football?
The big lineman's coaches didn't exactly know what to do with Vera-Tucker when he first arrived in California. But after he switched sides to play left guard at USC, the coaching staff finally got to see Vera-Tucker's true ability. He really began to shine in the position when he played in 13 games for the Trojans in 2019.
Vera-Tucker's outstanding play, both when stuffing the run game and in pass- protection, saw him voted the team's Offensive Lineman of the Year. He was also named to the Associated Press first-team All-Pac-12.
After he originally opted out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vera-Tucker returned to USC in 2020. He moved back to left tackle last season, where he started six games. After a strong season, he earned an All-American honorable mention and first-team All-Pac-12 honors.
He was also awarded the Morris Trophy, which recognizes the most outstanding offensive and defensive linemen, as voted for by opposing players. Many of these voters claimed that the USC offensive guard/tackle was the most dominant lineman they faced off against in 2020.
In short, Vera-Tucker enjoyed a solid collegiate career, and he looks set to be a real talent once he gets to the NFL. Naturally, competition for his signature after the draft will be fierce.
Which team is likely to select Vera-Tucker in the 2021 NFL Draft?
The majority of mock drafts have Alijah Vera-Tucker going off the board in the first round. The exact pick varies substantially, but most analysts have the USC product penciled in for somewhere between picks 18-31 of round one.
There isn't a team in the NFL that wouldn't take the chance to strengthen its offensive line. But, if things play out as analysts/journalists expect, it seems likely to Vera-Tucker will be selected late in the first round.
Assuming the Dolphins opt for one of the elite offensive line prospects, it's likely that Vera-Tucker is still on the board when Andy Reid's Kansas City Chiefs pick. It's fair to expect the reigning AFC Champions to rebuild their offensive line with their first pick (31) in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Chiefs got steamrolled by the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl, as the team was missing its best three offensive linemen.
Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz were both injured have been released this offseason, so Kansas City must assemble a new-look offensive line before the new season begins.
For this reason, the Chiefs have already snapped up former Patriot Joe Thuney in free agency. If Vera-Tucker is drafted in to play alongside him, Kansas City would have the foundation of an impressive offensive line that's capable of competing at the top of the NFL.
Vera-Tucker landing with the Chiefs seems like the best bet at this point.
What do you think? Will Vera-Tucker go off the board before Pick 31? Sound off in the comments section below: