Mekhi Becton is the future of the New York Jets offensive line. He also is the here and now for this rebuilding team.
The Jets first round pick in last month’s NFL Draft, Becton might prove to be a bit of a steal for the Jets. His falling to No. 11 landed the Jets a player who was popularly considered to be the top left tackle in the draft. After running a 5.1 time in the 40 at the NFL Combine, Becton quickly shot up draft boards. He came back down to earth a little bit after reports of a flagged drug test at the combine.
His drop worked well for the Jets, who came into the draft with left tackle as their most desperate of needs. Despite a wonderful job of rebuilding and retooling the line by general manager Joe Douglas, the left tackle position was a bit of an eyesore heading into the draft. The selection of Becton, an All-ACC left tackle and a physically imposing player, changed the look of the line.
Despite his dominance in college at Louisville, Becton is still raw. He must reshape his body (he was at 364 pounds at the combine) and will need to enhance his technique. But at the end of the day, he is someone the Jets can build their offensive line around in the future.
And for Bobby Petrino, who coached Becton at Louisville for three seasons beginning in 2017, he thinks Becton steps in and is an immediate impact player.
“I believe he will start Week 1! He is such a big, athletic young man with great toughness,” Petrino told SportsIllustrated.com.
“The most impressive thing I saw when we were recruiting him was his reverse dunk in basketball as a senior in high school.”
Petrino oversaw Becton’s development during the player’s first two seasons at Louisville. In his first season in college, he played in 13 games and made 11 starts, impressive for a freshman at a position where most players redshirt and often don’t start for another season or two after that.
Now the head coach at Missouri State, Petrino takes over a program in need of some rebuilding but one that has a solid track record over the years of sending players to the NFL. In 2017, former Missouri State linebacker Dylan Cole signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Houston Texans and has had a nice NFL career despite battling injuries.
Petrino’s program has a tough start in 2020, opening the season at Oklahoma. He is trying to revitalize a Missouri State program that competes in arguably the toughest conference in the FCS. The Missouri Valley has turned in eight of the last nine national champions at that level and boasted 33 playoff teams since 2011.
It has been a prominent career for Petrino, who spent several seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars as their quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator as well as two stints in Louisville. He also had time with programs such as Arkansas and Western Kentucky in recent years.
Becton, according to Petrino, reminds him of two standout players he coached in the NFL. Both were Pro Bowl players during their careers.
“When I coached at the Jacksonville Jaguars, we had Tony Boselli on one side and Leon Searcy on the other side,” Petrino said. “Mekhi is a combination of the two – long, athletic and powerful.”