Jets trade up in NFL Draft to select Alijah Vera-Tucker

After drafting Zach Wilson with his first pick of the night, Jets general manager Joe Douglas made a big move to land him some protection. Douglas traded up from No. 23 to No. 14 to get USC guard...

After drafting Zach Wilson with his first pick of the night, Jets general manager Joe Douglas made a big move to land him some protection.

Douglas traded up from No. 23 to No. 14 to get USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. The Jets sent their first-round pick (No. 23) and two third round picks (Nos. 66, 86) to the Vikings in exchange for the 14th pick and a fourth-rounder (No. 143).

Guard was a huge need for the Jets entering this offseason and now Douglas has filled it. Vera-Tucker was considered the No. 1 guard in this draft. He played left tackle last season at USC after playing guard in 2019, and is considered a guard in the NFL. He is known as a powerful blocker who has strength and good feet.

The 6-foot-4, 318-pounder won the Morris Trophy last year as the top offensive lineman in the Pac-12 as voted on by the conference’s defensive linemen.

USC Trojans guard Alijah Vera-Tucker (75) during USC’s first spring football practice
Getty Images

“Overall, Vera-Tucker does an outstanding job centering his blocks and sustaining due to his balanced feet, strong hands and quick processing,” Dane Brugler of The Athletic wrote. “He projects as an NFL starting guard with a Pro Bowl ceiling and tackle versatility.”

The selection of Vera-Tucker could lead to the release of Alex Lewis, whose cap number is $6.8 million this season. The Jets had major issues on the interior of their offensive line last year and considered pursuing top free agent Joe Thuney. Once the Chiefs gave Thuney $16 million a year, the Jets turned their eyes toward the draft to fill the hole at guard.

Douglas has shown he values the offensive line, using a first-round pick on an offensive lineman for the second straight season. He drafted left tackle Mekhi Becton with the No. 11 pick in 2020. Now Vera-Tucker and Becton will be playing next to one another.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Brian Costello

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