OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, Southern California

OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, Southern California* (6’4”, 315)

Background:

High-school offensive tackle who redshirted, then appeared in a reserve role the following season before taking over the starting left guard position in 2019. Slid out to left tackle for his junior year, then declared for the draft.

Positives:

Has played both guard and tackle for the Trojans. Very thickly-built offensive lineman with excellent bulk for either the inside or the outside; looks like he was able to slim down for tackle in 2020. Snap-to-snap output is consistent. Pass sets look good, bending his knees and keeping his hands high and his back straight. Plays from a seat and within his frame. Pretty light on his feet to mirror adequately against gap-shooters while maintaining form/balance. Gets good extension with his arms and is active with his hands to lock defenders out of his body; placement overall is good and is capable of resetting his hands accurately. Anchors easily against power in pass protection. Keeps his head on a swivel and seeks out opponents to block when not lined up opposite an opponent. Wins on rushing downs because he understands positioning and can use his size to wall off defenders. Capable of pulling to the right side of the formation and delivering crack blocks on backside pursuers. Some ability to block down and then climb. Demonstrates solid leg drive and works hard to stick with assignments through the whistle.

Negatives:

Build is probably more suitable for the interior of the offensive line; will need to confirm that he’s 6’4” and post impressive arm measurements to be considered as a tackle candidate. Overall range and athleticism are somewhat limited; more of a phone-booth blocker who struggles to consistently reach opponents in space, and has a hard time sticking with them when the play is flowing horizontally. Lacks recovery speed. Can occasionally lower his head when firing out of his stance in the run game, making him susceptible to swim moves. Hands can get grabby when dealing with quick opponents. Work rate is good but is not the nastiest or most aggressive blocker.

Summary:

Converted to tackle this past season and rose to the occasion but would probably fit best as an interior lineman. Not a pure mauler or a great athlete, but plays with technique and consistency and has the bulk and lower-body strength to anchor in pass protection and execute assignments on rushing downs provided he’s not asked to cover too much ground. A relatively safe draft pick, he should hear his name called within the first two rounds.

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