Mekhi Becton may well be the future starting left tackle of the New York Jets. That future, however, may not be this year.
When the Jets selected Becton at No. 11 in April’s NFL Draft, it was clear that the Louisville left tackle was destined to one day be blocking the blindside for quarterback Sam Darnold. Becton is a huge talent, literally, at 6’7 and 364 pounds he looks like the byproduct of a laboratory experiment to create the prototypical offensive tackle. The lab work was tremendous as he moves well (his 5.1 time in the 40 at the NFL Combine is already the stuff of legends) and his game film at Louisville shows a player who simply dominated the ACC.
But even with all the physical tools as well as his impressive showing at college, there is still lots to do for Becton to take that next step. Left tackles in the NFL are desired because of their importance to protecting the quarterback’s blind side. They are the best of the best. A left tackle is a quarterback’s best friend.
And that responsibility might fall in the near-term to George Fant. Signed this offseason from the Seattle Seahawks, Fant was originally told he would be the Jets left tackle.
Even with the drafting of Becton so high in the draft, nothing might change on that fron. Simply, Becton might need a year or even two years before he is ready to take over at left tackle and make it his own.
Former NFL general manager Randy Mueller doesn’t think the Jets should rush to anoint Becton as their starting left tackle. Instead, he thinks the coaching staff leaves Fant on that side and works Becton in at right tackle.
“I think the Jets leave Fant at left tackle. His strength is his athletic ability and feet. He is most comfortable there. He should be fine on an island dancing with speed rushers,” Mueller told SportsIllustrated.com. “Where he will struggle is with anchor and holding his ground vs physical bull rushers. The Seahawks would very much have liked to keep the [Fant], they just could not pay that kind of money. The rookie should stay on the right side.”
Mueller is a former general manager of the New Orleans Saints as well as the Miami Dolphins. He also spent 10 years with the San Diego Chargers where he served as their vice president of football operations until 2018 when he left the organization. He thinks Becton will be good but he needs time to develop and grow.
There is no denying that Becton has immense talent. Even as he just turned 21-years old, it is obvious that his combination of size and speed as well as raw strength is simply unteachable.
Before the draft, there was the thought that he could potentially go within the top four selections. Then, a report of a flagged drug test at the combine saw his draft stock plummet.
It was still a surprise to see him fall to No. 11, however. In some ways, the Jets got a steal given that Becton was considered the top offensive lineman in the entire draft.
Despite the rawness to his game including his technique, Becton was named the ACC’s top blocker last year. He needs to get better at using his hands and his leverage as well as his overall technique. He has a tremendous work ethic, however, which is a major selling point when projecting that he could be a top left tackle sooner rather than later.
“Mekhi is a humongous tackle who can play right or left tackle. He’s got Pro Bowl potential,” said former Jets scout Daniel Kelly. “If he applies himself to the game consistently, he can be one of the best in the game. Here’s the thing about him, he’s always been better than everyone else, it’s come easy for him, so he’s always had to push himself to reach his potential.”