Jets add protection for Zach Wilson, pick up USC OT Alijah Vera-Tucker at No. 14 after trading up with Vikings

Aggressive wins in the NFL and the Jets make an aggressive move by trading up with the Minnesota Vikings to give the No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson some protection.

The Jets traded their No. 23, No. 66 and No. 86 overall picks to the Vikings for their No. 14 and No. 143 overall picks and selected USC offensive tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker.

GM Joe Douglas saw an opportunity to get a player he loves and pulled the trigger.

“Where we were sitting at 23, we felt we had a unique opportunity to get a top-10 player in our minds, as our as our board was stacked to go up and get a guy like Alijah Vera-Tucker,” Douglas said. “A player that has started at tackle has started a guard and has been highly productive at both. So that versatility in that production is something that we really value.”

After the Jets finished 2-14, Vera-Tucker is embracing the rebuild process and is ready to get to work.

“I love it, I’ve been in this position before and not every year is going to be the greatest year,” Vera-Tucker said. “I love that type of atmosphere. So I’m just gonna come compete and just work my butt off.”

Vera-Tucker is a stud. He’s a 6-4, 315 pounder that played left tackle for USC, but the Jets can stick him at left guard alongside their talented left tackle in Mehki Becton.

Last year, Pro Football Focus rated the Jets offensive line 29th in the NFL after the unit allowed 43 sacks and the group struggled to consistently create running lanes.

Adding offensive line help was the most important thing for the Jets to do in the offseason after selecting Wilson. The Jets have to keep him upright and by drafting Vera-Tucker, the unit improves.

“I’m just competitor at heart, you know I’ve been one since I started playing sports I’m coming, compete my butt off like I always do in everything I do,” Vera-Tucker said. “Whatever the coach need me to do, I’m coming in and do. Build a great relationship with the O-Line because communication is key up front, and also being physical as well. I’m just gonna bring both of those things.”

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The Jets value Vera-Tucker’s versatility since he played both left tackle and left guard in college but the Jets aren’t setting his position yet.

“Like every one of our rookies they are going to have a great opportunity to come in here and compete,” Douglas said. “So, I know we have a lot of guys on our offensive line that have played multiple positions. From Conor McDermott playing tackle and guard to Connor McGovern who can play center and guard. So, he’s going to come in and compete and ultimately we’re gonna have our best five offensive linemen on the field, come opening Sunday.”

With offensive coordinator Mike LeFleur implementing a west coast offensive scheme, the offensive line should improve. Vera-Tucker will be a great fit for the wide zone blocking scheme that the Jets will be running in offensive coordinator Mike LeFleur’s west coast offense.

“I think there’s one of the reasons why they drafted me is because I could play in a lot of offensive scheme I feel like personally I could do it all,” Vera-Tucker said. “That’s what I told them before, just a guy who quick on his feet, just comes in is just physical as well. I feel that’s really important to any offensive line.”

It’s a decent price to pay to move up and select Vera-Tucker but when it comes to protecting your future franchise quarterback, it’s worth it.