2021 First-Round Pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker
Brian Costello, New York Post: Alijah, congratulations. What was your interaction like with the Jets through the last few months of the process? Did you get a sense that they were very interested in you?
Yeah, I mean, I talked to them a lot. I did get a feel of good interest. I liked talking to them as well. I liked the vibe. I liked what they’re doing there and how they’re trying to change things up, so I got a good feeling from them. And then they traded up to get me, so I’m excited.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Alijah, what about the opportunity of playing with a young franchise quarterback now?
Yeah, that’s a great opportunity. I mean, I’ve seen so much film of him just from social media. He’s a guy, he’s going to come in, and he’s going to be a game-changer right away, and who doesn’t want to block for someone like that? So that’s going to be really exciting.
DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: Alijah, last year, the Jets offensive line struggled a little bit. How can you come in and improve that unit?
Yeah, well, I’m just a competitor at heart. I’ve been one since I first started playing sports. So I’m going to come in and compete my butt off like I always do with everything I do, and then just come in and whatever the coaches need me to do, I’m going to come in there and do, build a great relationship with our O-line because communication is key up front, and also being physical as well. So, I’m just going to bring both of those things.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Alijah, you played both positions, you played left tackle and left guard, both, in college. How do you think your skill set translate to each one, and what do you expect to play now?
Yeah, well, I think both of those, on the tape, you can just see I have a good feel for pass rushes. I have quick hands. I have great feet as well. And I feel like transitioning to tackle, both those things help me with such short notice. So, both of those things, those two are completely different positions. Like I said, whatever the coaches need me to be, I’m coming in and compete.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Alijah, one of the first people, I think, that sent out a welcome to you on social media was Mekhi Becton, obviously, who’s another pretty key piece on this Jets offensive line. Do you know him at all? Have you ever interacted with him before? I mean, I was just wondering if you could talk about that.
No. Yeah, I’d never interacted with him before, but I know they picked him pretty early last year for a reason. I’ve seen he’s done some pretty good things as well, so I’m excited to play with him and the rest of the O-line.
Kim Jones, NFL Network: Congratulations. On our network tonight, Daniel Jeremiah, and he’s pretty close to Joe Douglas, he mentioned that you’d be a fit at left guard for the New York Jets. I guess, first reaction to hearing that?
Like I said, I mean, I played both of those, I played left guard, left tackle, right guard, so that doesn’t surprise me at all. Even though I played left tackle last year, I feel like I had good seasons, too, the year before that. So I was left t(ackle) and left guard. So yeah, like I said, this doesn’t surprise me. At the end of the day, it’s just where the coaches need me.
Kim Jones, NFL Network: How much, Alijah, do you kind of embrace a challenge? This is a Jets team that has undergone some change recently after winning just two games last year, and young players, including yourself, will be asked to be part of the solution. How much do you embrace that?
Yeah, well, I mean, I love it. I’ve been in this position before, just playing so many sports growing up. Not every year is going to be the greatest year. So, I’m going to come in, I know what the Jets fan base is like. I know they’re pretty intense. But like I say, I love that type of atmosphere with a team that likes to compete every single day. So, I mean, I’m just going to come in, embrace it, and I’ll just work my butt off.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Alijah, if you had to give a scouting report on yourself to someone in terms of your strengths, how would you describe your game?
I’m going to say I’m a guy who’s real physical, has a high IQ for the game, very quick feet, gets up to the second level really well, able to adjust to the different pass rushers, has quick hands too. When you kind of bring all those things together, I just think it brings a real dominant player.
J.P. Pelzman, Forbes: Alijah, you kind of mentioned this earlier. How do you think it helped last year moving to tackle? How do you think that helped your game as a guard? And why did that come about that you switched to tackle last season?
Yeah, well, I’ll start with the last question. We just kind of had nobody out there. Our left tackle left the year before that to the league, and then my coach just came to me, told me he want to put me in left tackle, and then he did, and then I just ended up staying there throughout fall camp. And then, like I said earlier, those two positions are completely different. But I do think playing in left tackle, I was able to show teams that I have quick feet, and on short notice, I feel like I did a pretty good job. I feel I could have done better with even more practice.
Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: Alijah, what’s your experience in a zone blocking scheme, and what did offensive line coach, John Benton, tell you about the type of skill set he’s looking for in that system?
Yeah, we didn’t really touch on that too much. I think just one of the reasons why they drafted me is just because I could fit in a whole lot of offensive schemes. I feel like, personally, I could do it all, and that’s what I told them before. But just a guy who’s quick on his feet, just comes in, is physical as well, I feel like, is really important to any offensive line.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Alijah, just one more, if I could? Are you familiar with Zach Wilson at all?
No, I never talked to him personally.