Through the first eight games of his rookie season, left tackle Mekhi Becton hasn't just held his own in the NFL. He's already shown he's one of the building blocks for the future of the New York Jets.
Becton, New York's first-round pick in this year's draft, is an absolute behemoth on the offensive line. Beyond making the plays that go unnoticed, protecting the quarterback and creating lanes for the running game, the 21-year old is dominating the line of scrimmage, routinely putting talented defenders in his own highlight reels.
Take last Sunday against the Chiefs for example. On the very first offensive play of the game for the Jets, Becton hoisted Pro Bowl defensive end Frank Clark in the air as he threw him to the side.
The play circulated quite a bit on social media, a brief glimpse of what Becton is capable of.
"I don't know if I've ever seen that really happen with Frank Clark before," head coach Adam Gase told reporters via Zoom on Thursday. "If you play long enough in the NFL, things like that do happen occasionally, but with Mekhi, he's so big, he's so powerful. Once he gets his momentum going and he has his hands on you, it's hard to redirect him and it's hard to get off him."
Becton, listed at 6-foot-7 and 363 pounds, was amused at how much of a response the play against Clark garnered. In his eyes, however, those types of blocks are what he does on a daily basis.
"It don’t mean nothing if I don’t keep playing that way I’m playing," Becton said after Thursday's practice. "I’ve got to keep tunnel vision, keep my head forward and keep my head down and keep working every day. I’m only a rookie, I haven’t done anything yet."
That's a testament to Becton's attitude as well. With his maturity off the field, his drive to improve each week and his budding confidence, Jets general manager Joe Douglas said the tackle is only beginning to scratch the surface.
"I think he's a player that is going to help us long term," Douglas said in a midseason presser this week. "We're excited about working with him every day because you talk about a young man that loves football. He's very smart. He's tough as nails and has rare size and athleticism.
"There's a lot of desire from him to want to be the best player that he can be so we've made it our mission to bend over backwards to try to help him reach his goals."
Gase echoed the GM's sentiments on the rookie.
"When you see him put guys on the ground and finish blocks the way he does and the nastiness and aggressiveness he plays with, it is something that not only outside but inside the building you're watching going man this guy, we just need to keep getting him better because you know he can be something special," he said.
Becton, the Louisville product, has played in six of New York's eight games thus far, lining up at tackle for 283 snaps. In his last two games, he hasn't missed a single play on offense. Through the midpoint of his rookie season, Becton has only been flagged twice.
Douglas' model for success, pointing this franchise back in the direction of contention, starts with the draft, developing young and talented players while bolstering the offensive and defensive lines. New York may be years away from contending for a trip back to the postseason, but with plenty of draft capital moving forward, Becton is one of the very first steps toward that goal.
Plus, he's already proven how much he wants to win.
"I don’t like it at all," he said addressing New York's 0-8 start. "I hate losing more than I like winning."
Poor start aside, Becton is living his dream. Learning from each new defense he faces while honing in on his footwork and hand placement at his position, he knows exactly what he needs to do to improve.
"If you go back to my combine interviews, that’s what I was saying," Becton said, allowing a smile to creep across his lips. "I told them I was the most dominant player in the draft. I'm showing it today so I've got to keep showing it."