PFF: Cardinals select OL Alijah Vera-Tucker in latest mock draft

Mar 16, 2021, 11:29 AM | Updated: 11:40 am
(Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)
(Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals got some help on the defensive line this offseason by signing J.J. Watt, but Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger doesn’t think general manager Steve Keim is done adding reinforcement to the trenches.

In PFF’s latest mock draft, Keim adds to the other side of the line, selecting USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker with the 16th overall pick.

The Cardinals have their left tackle for the foreseeable future in D.J. Humphries, so a rookie at either guard spot would make plenty of sense. They could also explore a move to right tackle for the versatile offensive lineman. Vera-Tucker allowed just eight pressures on 305 pass-blocking snaps in 2020, so he would be a big boost for Kyler Murray’s offensive line.

Vera-Tucker was named to the All-Pac-12 team in 2020 and was awarded the Morris Trophy, which is given to the best offensive and defensive lineman in the conference.

According to PFF, In 2019 Vera-Tucker gave up no sacks and no quarterback hits. He allowed only six hurries and drew two penalties in 12 games.

Vera-Tucker’s primary position is at guard, but he played the majority of last season at left tackle. The Oakland native earned an 89.2-grade last season, the highest of all tackles in college football.

If the Cardinals have the opportunity to select Vera-Tucker and he was to play immediately it would most likely be at right guard. While Justin Pugh is currently the starter at left guard, J.R. Sweezy is a free agent. If Sweezy isn’t resigned, Vera-Tucker would most likely have to compete with Justin Murray for the right guard position.

Right tackle Kelvin Beachum is also an unrestricted free agent. With Beachum’s pending free agency and the uncertainty surrounding Marcus Gilbert’s return after he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, Vera-Tucker’s versatility and ability to move outside proved he can play tackle in a pinch if needed.

Vera-Tucker is ranked 30th on PFF’s prospect big board, making him the fourth highest-ranked tackle in the class and the highest-ranked guard.

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PFF: Cardinals select OL Alijah Vera-Tucker in latest mock draft