Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC
So far, this draft has not gone down the way I imagined, but that’s how drafts are, aren’t they? Aside from the obvious picks, one constant has always been Alijah Vera-Tucker to Minnesota. Why? Because it just makes so much gosh darn sense!
The Vikings have certainly had a series of ups and downs over the past few years. In 2017, they rode the backs of 3 different quarterbacks to the NFC championship, for a shot at being the first team to play a superbowl in their home stadium. What happened instead, as we all remember fondly, was an absolute blowout by the Philadelphia Eagles to the tune of 38-7. After that, the Vikings front office decided they needed a true quarterback under center, so they won the bidding war for Kirk Cousins services, signing him to a 3-year $84 million salary, entirely guaranteed. Over that time period, Cousins has been pretty good, while the team overall has mostly been bad. Only seeing the playoffs in 2019, eventually losing the divisional game to San Francisco.
That brings us to the present. Cousins is still the Vikings quarterback, having signed a 2-year extension prior to the 2020 season. The offensive line for Minnesota has never been a strong point. Cousins was sacked the 6th most times in the NFL last season, and starting left tackle Riley Reiff signed with the Bengals as a free agent. Brian O’Neill, Ezra Cleveland, and Garrett Bradbury make for a decent right half of the line, but there’s a clear lack of protection on the left side. This is where Vera-Tucker comes in…
Alijah Vera-Tucker is the best interior offensive line prospect in the draft, and arguably a top 5 tackle prospect as well. In 2020, Vera-Tucker primarily lined up at left tackle for the USC Trojans offense, but the season prior he played left guard and as a core special teamer. He was named First-team All-PAC 12, and Second-team All-PAC 12 in each respectively. Coming in at 6 ft 4 in, and 300 lbs, Vera-Tucker exhibits a natural blend of strength and athleticism, as evidenced by his balance and body control. He has the flexibility to bend and block speed rushers around the edge, as well as the footwork and hands to stop power rushers inside. He’s a fluid mover, with advanced technique in his kick-slide, and understanding of movement in zone blocking schemes.
vs Utah (2020)
00:00 - 00:10: ROLB Devin Lloyd fakes the rush, then RDE Maxs Tupai attempts an outside speed rush. Vera-Tucker’s kick-slide puts him in a perfect position to bend outside. Tupai then attempts to swim inside as QB Slovis moves upwards in the pocket. Vera-Tucker deflects the swim and using his strength versus a smaller edge rusher, he takes Tupai out of the play completely.
01:11 - 01:18: RDE Maxs Tupai attempts a bull rush, after Vera-Tucker set up inside in pure pass protection. Vera-Tucker quickly sets his feet and hips before Tupai can reach him. He does not budge, and a deep pass play is completed.
04:26 - 04:30: On a zone run play to the left side, Vera-Tucker flattens RDE Maxs Tupai within seconds, he quickly moves to the second level and pushes ROVER Nephi Sewell to the side. Then before RB Stephen Carr reaches the next level, he has moved on to assist LG Andrew Voorhees with the interior defender.
Vera-Tucker projects as a starting left guard in the NFL, due to his lack of prototypical size and length at the tackle position, but this is a mold that has been broken in the past. 2017 1st round pick Garrett Bolles was knocked for being an undersized tackle, but he responded to those criticisms by being named to the PWFA All-Rookie team in 2017, and Second-team All-Pro in 2020. Bears offensive tackle Charles Leno was drafted in the 7th round in 2014, despite a fantastic career at Boise State due to his size limitations, but he made the pro-bowl in 2018. Vera-Tucker’s “limitations” just provide flexibility for the Vikings to play him at either spot, which also allows them greater freedom in who they sign and draft moving forward.
Will Hernandez (G) (New York Giants) - Lance Zerlein (NFL.com)
Zack Martin (G) (Dallas Cowboys) - Drae Harris (TheDraftNetwork)
Ali Marpet (G) (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) - Oliver Hodgekinson (ProFootballNetwork)
Do you approve of this pick?
This poll is closed
2021 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Jaguars (Phoenix X Minimus): QB Trevor Lawrence
2) Jets (eagles.north.of.the.border): QB Zach Wilson
3) 49ers (I Need a Username): QB Trey Lance
4) Falcons (chewy wellington): OT Penei Sewell
5) Bengals (Dr_Horrible): WR Ja’Marr Chase
6) Dolphins (20Safety_Hazard): TE Kyle Pitts
7) Lions (drc242): WR DeVonta Smith
8) Panthers (wildcatlh): QB Justin Fields
9) Broncos (ItownBallers22): CB Patrick Surtain II
10) Cowboys (Kephas): OT Rashawn Slater
11) Giants (Billmington): WR Jaylen Waddle
12) Eagles (ablesser88): CB Jaycee Horn
13) Chargers (Georgia_eagle): LB Micah Parsons
14) Vikings (Philliesandthebees): OT Alijah Vera-Tucker
15) Patriots (SakPrescott):
16) Cardinals (Carson Wentzs ACL):
17) Raiders (dshelton5):
18) Dolphins (J. Wil):
19) Football Team (Negadelphia Norm):
20) Bears (Happy24):
21) Colts (Fly Like An Eagle):
22) Titans (Friendly Neighborhood Philly Fan):
23) Jets (Asap Stocky):
24) Steelers (Gregnado):
25) Jaguars (“Snax”):
26) Browns (gerouxman1956):
27) Ravens (Brendanekstrom):
28) Saints (grantspectations):
29) Packers (Philly_Philly):
30) Bills (doublefry):
31) Chiefs (Leo Bedio):
32) Buccaneers (phuckdallas):
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2021 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Minnesota Vikings draft at No. 14?
This poll is closed
OT Alijah Vera-Tucker
OT Christian Darrisaw
DE Kwity Paye
DE Jaelan Phillips
DE Gregory Rousseau
QB Mac Jones
1) Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence
2) Jets: QB Zach Wilson:
3) 49ers: QB Justin Fields
4) Falcons: OT Penei Sewell
5) Bengals: WR Ja’Marr Chase
6) Dolphins: TE Kyle Pitts
7) Lions: WR DeVonta Smith
8) Panthers: OT Rashawn Slater
9) Broncos: QB Trey Lance
10) Cowboys: CB Patrick Surtain II
11) Giants: LB Micah Parsons
12) Eagles: WR Jaylen Waddle
13) Chargers: CB Jaycee Horn