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Jets Draft Preview | Alijah Vera-Tucker Leads Interior OL Prospects

GM Joe Douglas Could Add Some Depth Up Front in NFL Draft

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Jets GM Joe Douglas has always emphasized the offensive line, so it wouldn't be a surprise if he added through the draft. Pat Elflein and Josh Andrews, who combined for 10 starts in the 2020 season, both left the team in free agency. Douglas brought in former Chargers' OL Dan Feeney, who has played all three interior positions. 

Here are five candidates Douglas could add in the April 29-May 1 draft in Cleveland:

Top of the Class
Alijah Vera-Tucker (6-4, 315), USC

After playing LG for the Trojans in 2019, Vera-Tucker moved to LT and excelled. He was a first-team All-Pac 12 selection and the Morris Trophy Winner, given to the Pac 12's top tackle. 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 wrote. "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."

Best of the Rest
Jalen Mayfield (6-5, 320), Michigan

Mayfield, whose father, Brian, played LT at Ferris State from 1989-93, only played RT for the Wolverines (15 starts). Dane Brugler of The Athletic believes Mayfield would be best suited to play guard in the NFL and added his grade among evaluators falls as high as Round 1 and as low as Round 3.

"He can uproot defenders at contact," Brugler said. "I love the way he'll drive in the run game with his inline power. … His slide quickness is average, which is why I think a move inside would be best. Long term, a really intriguing player and can be a really solid pro. Short term, there will be a learning curve."

Wyatt Davis (6-3, 315), Ohio State
Davis, whose grandfather is HOF DE Willie Davis, was a first-team All-America in 2019 and 2020 as well as the Rimington-Pace Big Ten OL of the Year in '20. He was thrown into action as a redshirt freshman in 2018 and didn't look back -- he started 24 straight games for the Buckeyes.

"In pass protection and as a run blocker, Davis is quick to get the upper hand due to his striking power, body control and competitive nature," Brugler wrote in his draft guide. "While his physical appetite is a strength, he can be too eager to initiate contact without getting his feet underneath him, leaving him off-balance and on the ground. Overall, Davis must play under control and improve his snap-to-snap consistency, but his forceful hands, powerful anchor and finishing skills are NFL-ready."

Trey Smith (6-6, 330), Tennessee
Smith earned first-team All-SEC honors in 2019 and 2020 and has experience at left tackle, left guard (where he predominantly played) and right guard. The medicals will be big for Smith, who missed the second half of the 2018 season because of blood clots in his lungs.

"A little bit of an enigma as a prospect because he's rare in terms of size, power and movement ability," Brugler said. "He posted outstanding numbers in terms of agility at his Pro SDay, 32 reps on the bench, but the senior tape was very up and down. For a player with that raw power, you expect to see displacement, point-of-attack movement and you just don't see it on a consistent basis from him. High risk, high reward player because the talent is undeniable."

Day 3 Diamond
Royce Newman (6-6, 310), Mississippi

Newman offers four-position versatility at the pro level -- he can play center, right tackle and either guard position. He allowed just three sacks over the past two seasons for Mississippi.

"Newman is going to show up, provide immediate depth for a team and he's going to play for the next 10 years as a mid-round pick," Brugler said. "He has good length and he's always on time, which is what you love about him. His eyes, feet and movement are all on schedule. He's not the most powerful guy, but he doesn't need to be because when his angles are on point, he's able to keep the pocket clean and seal run lanes."

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