Next up in the Unpacking a Future Packers countdown is Alijah Vera-Tucker. The USC offensive lineman checks in at number 29 in the countdown.
There are certain players every year during the NFL Draft that just feel like they’re destined to be Green Bay Packers. A lot of the time that feeling doesn’t pan out.
This year a player that “feels” like a future Green Bay Packer is USC offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker. The question is will he be on the board when the Packers are on the clock with the 29th pick?
Vera-Tucker was a two-year starter for the Trojans. In 2019, Vera-Tucker started at guard and earned second-team all-conference. This past season he kicked out to left tackle and earned first-team all-conference.
“Two completely different positions,” Vera Tucker said. “When you’re on the inside of the offensive line, guys are a lot heavier and stronger, and in your face quicker. On the edge, you have to be a lot more patient.”
Vera-Tucker saw his stock soar after kicking out to tackle this past season. He has the ability to play tackle at the next level, but his fest fit may be inside at guard. The USC product was recently ranked as the top guard in the class by The Athletic’s Dane Brugler.
“Vera-Tucker is coordinated in pass protection and his punch connects with flat feet and natural force, winning early and resetting throughout the rep. He creates a surge in the run game and competes with the play personality required for the pro level. Overall, Vera-Tucker does an outstanding job centering his blocks and sustaining due to his balanced feet, strong hands, and quick processor, projecting as an NFL starting guard with a Pro Bowl ceiling and tackle versatility.”
As a pass protector, Vera-Tucker has quick feet and the ability to mirror pass rushers. The two-year starter has good balance and body control due to a strong core. He’s able to anchor down against bull-rushers.
Vera-Tucker has strong hands and is able to control the defender in front of him. He has the flexibility and mobility to bend. He has a high football IQ. The former four-star recruit is able to identify stunts and loops quickly.
“I’m very physical on the field” Vera-Tucker said. “I feel like my football IQ is very high…I’m a very good technician. I take that very seriously. All those things combined separate me from the other offensive lineman in this class.”
As a run-blocker Vera-Tucker’s feet never stop moving. He’s always looking to drive the man across from him into the dirt. The two-year starter is as strong as a bull and uses that power, as he tosses aside defenders like they are rag dolls in the run game.
That strength was on full display at USC’s pro day, when he put up 36 reps on the bench. He has the athleticism to climb to the second level and rarely misses his target. At USC’s pro day he recorded a 10-yard split of 1.77.
“I feel like I’m a really athletic offensive lineman,” Vera-Tucker said. “I’m always climbing to the second level.”
Pro Football Focus compared Vera-Tucker to former Packers offensive lineman, TJ Lang in their draft guide. Like Lang, Vera-Tucker had the versatility to play guard or tackle.
“It’s also a big plus that we’ve seen him produce at both left guard (2019) and left tackle (2020). It was his work this past year at left tackle that really solidified his status in our eyes, as he allowed eight pressures on only 305 pass-blocking snaps all season — the majority of which came at the hands of likely top-10 pick in 2022 Kayvon Thibodeaux. While he’s likely a guard still, that versatility is nice to have.”
Fit with the Packers
The Packers had one of the best offensive lines in football this past season. That line took a hit when Corey Linsley signed with the Las Angeles Chargers in free agency.
Who will replace Linsley at center? The Packers have internal options with Elgton Jenkins, Lucas Patrick, and possibly Jake Hanson.
If Jenkins moves to center from guard, who replaces him at guard? Does Billy Turner play right guard or right tackle? There are a lot of moving parts with Green Bay’s offensive line.
With Vera-Tucker’s ability to play guard or tackle he would be an attractive option for the Packers if he falls to them in the first round.
“I think teams are looking at me as a tackle and guard,” Vera-Tucker said. “I feel like I’m a very versatile player. I think I’ve proven that during my career here at USC.”
Vera-Tucker is a plug-and-play starter at guard or tackle. The strength of Green Bay’s team last season was the offensive line. Adding a player of Vera-Tucker’s caliber would ensure that the Great Wall of Lambeau continues to stay a strength in 2021.