Sports Illustrated's Connor Orr recently made a list of the AFC's most underrated players (one per team) and for the Jets, that was second-year RG Alijah Vera-Tucker.
"While AVT was a first-round pick, we don't often think of him as one of the NFL's elite offensive linemen," Orr wrote. "At least not yet, which qualifies him (in my mind) for a post about underrated players. The end of his 2021 season solidified as much in my mind. I'm not going to pretend to take credit for this. Here's an excellent cut up of his performance against the Buccaneers which completely blew me away.
"I was consistent in saying that the hiring of John Benton as run game coordinator and offensive line coach was one of the Jets' biggest hires since Bill Callahan. This highlights all the ways in which Benton can mold a prospect for the outside-zone system. I also rewatched some of Vera-Tucker against the Saints to see how he fared against a truly elite front and came away impressed. There's no doubt he has the mass, the toughness and the athleticism. What's missing now is simply the quantifiable team success."
Vera-Tucker, the No. 14 overall selection in 2021 out of USC, played the most snaps on offense last season (1,026). He started 16 games at LG. In 2022, he'll play right guard after the Green & White added Pro Bowl LG Laken Tomlinson in free agency. The Jets like AVT's versatility -- he played both guard positions and left tackle in college.
"First off, I was hyped about it," Vera-Tucker said after he received a phone call from general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh immediately after the Jets signed Tomlinson from San Francisco. "The guy coming in is from the same offense, he played in the Super Bowl. That's why they've brought him in. They asked me about moving to right guard and I immediately said yes. I did it at USC, so at this point I'm used to it.
"It's just a matter of footwork and being able to switch plays in your head. Once I get it down it will take a couple of weeks, but I'm getting more comfortable about this. This is not like going from guard to tackle, it's not a big deal for me and I didn't treat it that way."