Consistency is the key to offensive line play in the NFL. Alijah Vera-Tucker consistently does all the small things at a high level, showing he has what it takes to make it at the next level.
This has been one of the more fun film reviews I have been able to do on a prospect so far this draft season. During the NFL draft season, it’s fun to look at offensive linemen who are good at one position and imagine them at another position on the line. It’s another thing entirely to watch a player at two different positions and watch that player play both at a high level. Very few have the toolset to do that, but Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC has done exactly that over the course of the past two seasons.
Fundamentally sound football is the best way to describe Vera-Tucker, who sits as a “tweener” by offensive line standards at 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds. A little light for a guard, and lacking one height and length for a tackle, but these are not concerns. When you play the game with sound crisp vertical pass sets, and rock solid hand’s it’s hard to go wrong.
At both guard and tackle, Vera-Tucker has shown the ability to pass set effectively. At tackle his ability to keep his drive and kick vertical, and not overset while not missing with his punch. Below in the passing game, you can see his ability to laterally redirect down the line after picking up a line stunt.
Footwork and fundamentals are great, but it is also nice to see Vera-Tucker dominate the line of scrimmage from a physical stand point as well. Often times at USC he was able to over power lesser competition, but the way he made it look easy like above in the pass game, and below in the run game is what makes him a highly touted prospect in this years draft.
In the end, I do think that Vera-Tucker projects more to playing along with the interior in the NFL, and if he can snap I think he could dominate at center, especially with the way he drives blocks off the ball and can move laterally in pass pro. His feet help him pick up twist games and his upper body and grip strength will help him to take on bigger defensive tackles as well as nose guards. If he were to play guard he would help set the line for the Chiefs and keep the wall in front of Patrick Mahomes, while also being a natural fit in the Chiefs zone game, as well as a pulling guard for the Chiefs power looks.
He has the capability to play tackle, and he was good in 2020 for the Trojans but I think he projects to be a much better player on the inside. Still, the versatility is what NFL coaches, especially Andy Reid love to see. Reid’s philosophy on the offensive line is the best five will play, no matter what the position.
This and giving the Chiefs an uncertain future at the offensive line make Vera-Tucker a great fit for the Chiefs. He can come in and start day one on the interior, and if need be slide out to tackle and play well in a pinch. He does the little things that all offensive linemen should do at a high level and plays the game the right way.