Alijah Vera-Tucker is leaving USC football for the NFL Draft
The 2020 calendar year has been full of surprises but this is not one of them: Alijah Vera-Tucker is going to the NFL.
USC football’s starting left tackle confirmed to Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel on Monday that he is putting his name into the NFL Draft pool.
Considering a swath of first-round projections for Vera-Tucker, his decision to head onto the pros is tough to argue with.
Alijah Vera-Tucker was USC football’s best lineman in 2020
The redshirt junior had already declared for the draft after the 2020 season was canceled. When it was reinstated, he opted back in and held down a key role for USC’s offense.
He had been the Trojans’ most reliable lineman in 2019 at left guard. The departure of Austin Jackson for the NFL opened up the left tackle spot and an opportunity for Vera-Tucker to prove his versatility and improve his draft stock.
Unquestionably, Vera-Tucker accomplished his mission in 2020. He was an All-Pac-12 first-team selection after an excellent season protection Kedon Slovis’ blindside
If Vera-Tucker is indeed drafted in the first round, USC will have produced two consecutive Day 1 line prospects for the first time since Tyron Smith and Matt Kalil in 2011 and 2012.
While Vera-Tucker looks like he has a bright future ahead of him in the NFL, USC’s prospects without him in 2021 are a mystery. The Trojans could turn to right tackle Jalen McKenzie to fill the gap on the left. Veteran guards Liam Jimmons and Andrew Vorhees could make their own move outside. Or a youngster may be called upon to step into the starting lineup.
There is always the possibility of bringing in a transfer to cover the position as well.
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For now, it would seem USC is likely to return their four other starters on the offensive line, but it won’t be easy to replace Vera-Tuckers immense presence.