The New York Jets, spending some of that draft capital they had acquired in advance of the 2021 NFL Draft, traded their 23rd overall pick plus their two third-round choices to Minnesota for the Vikings' 14th pick, which the Jets used to take Southern Cal offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker.
The Jets originally acquired their second Round 1 pick when they sent S Jamal Adams in trade to the Seattle Seahawks last July. They also got a third-round pick, No. 86, plus next year's first-rounder from the Seahawks.
General manager Joe Douglas dealt this year's 1 and 3 from the Seahawks plus the Jets' own third-rounder, No. 66 overall, to the Vikings for the 14th pick plus the 143rd overall pick, the Vikes' compensatory selection at the end of Round 4.
Douglas explained that making the deal had a lot to do with Vera-Tucker. "This came down to us having a player in our top-10 sitting there and us having the picks to go get that player," the GM said, "someone we feel can help us for a long time here."
"I talked to the Jets a lot and I did get a good deal of interest," Vera-Tucker told Jets reporters shortly after his selection. "I got the vibe of what they're doing there, changing things up. Then they traded up to get me, so I'm excited."
Vera-Tucker, after playing left guard for the Trojans in 2019 and earning All-Pac-12 second-team honors, moved to left tackle and excelled. He was an All-Pac-12 first-team selection, All-America honorable mention, and the Morris Trophy Winner, given to the Pac 12's top tackle. For his Trojans career he played in 39 games with 19 starts, 13 coming at LG and six at LT.
Most draft analysts project him to play guard on the pro level and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network believes he's one of the safest players in this draft class.
"He plays with excellent strength, balance and awareness in pass protection," Jeremiah has said. "In the run game, he can latch, control and create movement on down blocks. He takes excellent angles to the second level and has a good feel on combo blocks. He isn't the most dynamic athlete, but he's always under control and rarely in bad position. … He is ready to start on Day 1."
"I have a good feel for pass rushers. I have quick hands and quick feet as well," Vera-Tucker said, adding of whether he expects to play at tackle or guard in the pros, "Those are two completely different positions. ... At the end of the day, it's just where the coaches need me.
"I'm a competitor at heart," he added. "I've been one since I've been playing sports. I'm going to come in and compete my butt off just like I always do."
"I know we have a lot of guys on our offensive line who've played multiple positions," Douglas said, adding that AVT will "have to come in and compete, and ultimately we're going to have our best five offensive linemen on the field come opening day."
As for blocking for his now fellow Jets first-rounder, No. 2 overall pick BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, Vera-Tucker said:
"That's a great opportunity. I've seen so much film of him just on social media. He's a guy who's going to come in and be a gamechanger right away. Who wouldn't want to block for someone like that?"
This is the Green & White's 18th draft pick from Southern Cal in franchise history. The total includes seven picks in 2000s and seven first rounders. Most prominent: T Marvin Powell (Round 1, No. 4, 1977), who played in five Pro Bowls for the Jets. The most recent Trojans selected by the Jets were QB Sam Darnold (Round 1, No. 3, 2018) and T Chuma Edoga (Round 3, No. 92, 2019).
Douglas was happy to have the draft capital to make the deal that brought the Green & White Vera-Tucker. The Jets have only their second-round pick, No. 34 overall, on night two of the draft, but now also have six picks on day three, two picks in each of Rounds 4, 5 and 6. And the GM didn't rule out another trade if the opportunity should present itself.
"We've been able to acquire a lot of picks and you saw the flexibility that gave us tonight," he said. "We'll see if the phone rings. We're open to any discussion. We'll see over the next two days."