As the saying goes, the bigger they come, the bigger they fall.
Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton could be giving that old adage a test this week after a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport over the weekend indicated that the 6-7, 364 pounder was among a handful of top prospects whose test at the Combine for banned substances was red-flagged by league officials.
Each individual team will make their own decisions as to how seriously to take Becton’s test, which will have a lot to do with precisely why his test was flagged in the first place. If the test came up positive for marijuana – far and away the most common reason for flagged tests at the NFL’s annual Combine – the supremely gifted left tackle isn’t likely to fall too far.
This is part due to the fact that marijuana restrictions were lessened in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the Players Association. If Becton does not have any further flagged or failed tests over the next 60 days, he will essentially be off “probation” and this could all just be a footnote, though teams will certainly be more leery of his decision-making.
As is often the case, this may have more to do with Becton’s talent than any change in procedure from the league or its 32 general managers, however.
Athletes who move like he can are exceptionally rare, after all. Remember, this is the same player whose 5.10 second 40-yard dash (at 364 pounds!) was considered by some to be an even more remarkable feat that the 4.27 second time turned in Alabama wideout Henry Ruggs III, the fastest time delivered at the Combine this year.
This is an incredibly gifted and tightly-packed offensive tackle class, however. Becton has often been characterized as one of this year’s “Big Four” underclassmen at the position, joining Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, Jr. and Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs as the nearly universal elite tier of blockers and likely top 20 picks.
Bekton, in fact, has frequently been mocked to the New York Giants (fourth overall) and Miami Dolphins (fifth) in part because of his remarkable upside. This news, however, threatens to push him to the bottom of the Big Four and perhaps even lower as Southern California’s Austin Jackson, Houston’s Josh Jones, Georgia’s Isaiah Wilson and Boise State’s Ezra Cleveland are also first round candidates who could leap Becton due to this news.