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NFL Insider Projects Mekhi Becton's Trade Value Ahead of NFL Draft

Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer provides some insight on what Jets left tackle Mekhi Becton would be worth if New York decided to trade him.
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The Jets could find themselves in quite the predicament with the No. 4 overall pick in this month's NFL draft.

Not too long ago, New York picked Mekhi Becton in the first round, thinking they filled a hole at left tackle for the next decade.

After a promising rookie year and a sophomore season lost to an injury in Week 1, now general manager Joe Douglas and his team need to decide if it's time to move on from Becton and fill his spot with one of the top-ranked tackles in this year's class.

According to NFL insider Albert Breer, New York really likes NC State offensive lineman Ickey Ekwonu, a lineman that could be available fourth overall. 

"I expect that, if he’s on the board, he’ll be in the discussion at No. 4," Breer wrote in his latest Sports Illustrated mailbag on Wednesday. "He’s a mauler, can play left tackle and has the ceiling to be the best guard in the league if you play him there."

Sure, New York could go a different direction. They could take an EDGE, like Kayvon Thibodeaux. They could address their secondary with cornerback Ahmad Gardner.

But if they do target Ekwonu—or even another offensive lineman for that matter—what would it mean for Becton?

Well, the Jets could always trade the former first-round pick to open up a spot for Ekwonu.

If that's the case, what would Becton be worth?

Here's Breer with more:

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If they land Ekwonu? Well, then maybe you can move Becton for a second-rounder, and something else (perhaps a 2023 pick conditional on him playing this year). Or you can hold on to Becton, and if he becomes the Bryant McKinnie type of left tackle he has the potential to be, now you’ve got a champagne problem on your hands, and maybe you look at kicking Vera-Tucker to right tackle and moving Fant, or trying Tomlinson at center.

I know Jets fans don’t want it to be another lineman. I get it. But we’ve seen, over and over again, this sort of investment in an offensive front (Dallas, Kansas City, etc.) pay huge dividends for teams trying to bring along young quarterbacks. And so if the Jets are sitting there at No. 4 and deem Ekwonu the best player, which isn’t an unrealistic scenario, I don’t mind the idea of just taking him and figuring out the rest later.

The optics of moving on from Becton wouldn't be ideal. He was the very first pick of Douglas' tenure as GM. Plus, he showed flashes of dominance up front during his first season in 2020. 

Nonetheless, and as Breer went on to allude to, this could be a franchise-altering season for New York. If they truly believe that this is the last time in a while that they'll be picking high in the first round, as they begin to win more games, then this could be the last opportunity to select the best tackle in a draft class.

No matter how good Becton could be, the best ability in this league is availability. He hasn't proven that he can stay on the field just yet. 

Ekwonu would bring insurance to an offensive line that continues to improve. New York signed guard Laken Tomlinson this offseason and guard Alijah Vera-Tucker is poised to build on his solid rookie campaign (Vera-Tucker is also a former first-rounder).

This could be a scenario where Douglas and the Jets pick the best player available and figure out the playing time puzzle later. Positions could be shifted up front and it never hurts to have depth when attempting to protect your franchise quarterback.

Then again, adding a second-round pick for damaged goods like Becton—when you're replacing him with a highly-touted prospect—might be enough of a return for the Jets to be willing to move on.

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