Chargers rebuild offensive line in 3-round 2021 NFL mock draft

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Alijah Vera-Tucker, 2021 NFL Draft, Chargers option

2021 NFL Draft prospect Alijah Vera-Tucker (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Chargers move quickly to protect quarterback Justin Herbert with two offensive linemen.

It will soon be a new day for the Chargers with a new coaching staff taking the reins very soon. The utmost priority for them and general manager Tom Telesco will be to ensure their signal-caller’s health.

Now, the priority must be to keep him upright for years to come. This is especially true in the AFC West with so many talented pass rushers such as  Frank Clark and Bradley Chubb.

Another deficiency that Los Angeles has to address is their pass rush. Joey Bosa led the squad with seven and a half sacks, but the team needs more in that department. Jonathon Cooper could be a fit for them, that’s one option. Either way, investing early draft capital on an EDGE prospect would be the smart move.

In this scenario, Chargers brass makes a statement and picks up two offensive linemen within the NFL Draft’s first three rounds. Let’s take a look at a plausible three-round mock for the Chargers. They’ll be addressing two critical needs within the first two days of the draft.

Chargers mock draft: Round 1, Pick 13

Alijah Vera-Tucker, Tackle, USC

Chargers brass have found their quarterback of the future and they won’t have to look far for insurance. Picking up tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker from the University of Southern California makes too much sense if he’s available. Recently, Vera-Tucker won the Morris Trophy, an award that Pac-12 defensive players voted on to bestow on him as the best lineman in the conference.

The two starting tackles for the Chargers, Sam Trevi and Storm Norton, arent the long-term answers. Herbert in his rookie year was sacked 32 times, this will have to improve if he’s to stay healthy. Vera-Tucker is a premier tackle prospect standing at six-foot-four, weighing in at 315 pounds.

Pro Football Focus highlighted Vera-Tucker’s pass-blocking prowess with a grade of 84.2 for the 2020 season. Vera-Tucker played left guard recently for the Trojans but if the Chargers select him, it’ll be with the intention of making him their left tackle. One obvious observation is Vera-Tucker’s ability to maintain his depth in the pocket, excelling at pass protection.

You can see on film Vera-Tucker’s leverage and hands be on full display, he completely shuts down edge defenders.

One concern for Vera-Tucker would be his footwork, if he doesn’t overpower defenders at the point of attack, you can see speedy receivers spin around him, the Oregon game is one example. With proper coaching in the NFL, Vera-Tucker can improve on this.

He’ll also be an asset in the run game as you can see in USC’s matchup with Utah this past season. Vera-Tucker comes off the ball and punishes defenders using his stature and sheer strength. With a promising backfield, establishing a dominant run game will only Herbert in his development.

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