Alijah Vera-Tucker 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report
We take a look at USC offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker's 2021 NFL Draft scouting report today and assess whether his draft profile projects as a first round pick. His versatility and compusure will be intriguing across the league for all O-line needy franchises.
Alijah Vera-Tucker NFL Draft Profile
Alijah Vera-Tucker – OT/iOL, USC
Height – 6’4”
Weight – 315lbs
Class – Redshirt Junior
Hometown – Oakland, California
Vera-Tucker was a 4-Star recruit and was highly recruited amongst the PAC-12 Conference but ultimately chose the USC Trojans. Redshirted in 2017 he saw action as a back-up guard in what was a disappointing season for the Trojans but in 2019 Vera-Tucker was made the starting left guard. His excellent pass protection, giving up just one sack in 590 pass-block attempts, helped him gain 2nd Team All PAC-12 honours and improve the Trojans’ fortunes to a winning 8-5 season.
With Austin Jackson departing for the NFL, Vera-Tucker was moved to left tackle for the 2020 season. After initially opting out, Vera-Tucker reversed that decision when the PAC-12 announced a truncated season and arguably no other player from the PAC-12 helped their draft stock more.
I have rarely seen such composure when faced with stunts, twists or blitzes. Nothing fazes Vera-Tucker, and he does not skip a beat in passing off or picking up defenders.
The game seems to slow down for him when there is movement on the defensive line – either playing as guard or tackle his awareness is elite. This also extends to other areas of the line as he keeps his head on a swivel to look where his o-line counterparts may require his help.
Numerous examples of him leaving his double team to give assistance where it is needed – teammates will really appreciate being lined up next to Vera-Tucker.
In pass-pro, he gains good depth on his kick slide and shows good lateral agility to mirror pass pushers deep round the arc or to counter inside moves as he can maintain a vice like grip. He rarely has to flip his hips early and go into recovery mode. He has sufficient anchor and plays with enough flexibility to neutralise a bull rush.
Not a true people-mover when heads up with defensive tackles but shows awareness when creating a gap to seal a running lane. Has sufficient power to hold up against college defensive tackles that it should not be a weakness at the NFL level.
There is not an overwhelming amount of evidence to gain a strong opinion of his ability to locate and engage with targets at the second level. In the limited number of times he has been asked, like in his exceptional performance against Arizona this season, he has been successful and the lateral agility shown when in pass pro would suggest that breaking down to engage more agile defenders should not be an issue.
Since moving to tackle there seems to be an inefficiency of movement, particularly with the hand usage. On deeper pass sets Vera-Tucker has an exaggerated movement with his arms as if he is using them to help propel himself backwards.
Ideally his hands should be ready to strike at any time, but this aforementioned motion restricts that ability. Admittedly, as the season has worn on this appears to be less of an issue but is something to be aware of as he is likely to face quicker opposition than what he has faced in the PAC-12.
The inefficiency in hand usage since moving to tackle also has surfaced in the run game as he chops his hands out of his stance. Against most pass rushers in the PAC-12 this was not an issue as his hand speed and recovery could mask the concern. Against Oregon and the best competition he has faced in Kayvon Thibodeaux, it was exposed.
Thibodeaux with his elite burst and length could engage on his terms quickly, establishing control before disengaging and making the play whilst remaining relatively untouched by Vera-Tucker.
The instances of this were rare, and only since moving to tackle but Vera-Tucker is likely to be lined up against players closer to Thibodeaux’s calibre than the rest of the PAC-12 rushers he has faced this season.
Alijah Vera-Tucker Overview
With the long list of strengths such as the composure, lateral agility, anchor, and glimpses of engaging targets at the second level, Vera-Tucker could be a day one starter at guard in a zone blocking scheme.
The deeper pass sets have got smoother as the season progressed with less exaggerated arm movements, however the punch timing when playing at tackle requires some development but he could start with a team that is prepared to accept those growing pains.
2021 NFL Draft Projection
Late 1st/Early 2nd Round
USC vs Oregon - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbJ3lZpqNk8
USC vs Arizona State - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDGNbGGBypI&t=161s
USC vs Arizona - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGCpmP1nHdw
USC vs Iowa - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47wl0brH8zE
USC vs Cal - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LMESgUE1N0
USC vs UCLA - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtPc3WR3lqU