The New York Jets have a new offensive lineman and he’s a mountain of a man. It’s time to do a deep dive on Mekhi Becton.
With the 11th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select… Mekhi Becton, left tackle, Lousiville. For the first time in over a decade, the Jets take an offensive lineman in the first round. It feels good to finally have a need addressed in the first round.
After years of the Jets going best player available and selecting defensive players, it’s nice to see the front office show the other side of the ball some love. The 2009 and 2010 Jets teams were built on two things—defense and the offensive line. That’s also the last time the Jets had a strong offensive line.
General manager Joe Douglas is attempting to change that, and he just took a potential cornerstone piece. Becton has the highest ceiling of any offensive lineman in this class. He could be a Hall-of-Fame level player if everything pans out. However, that kind of ceiling comes with risks.
Becton isn’t a perfect prospect. He has holes all over his game that caused him to fall out of the top-10 in the first place.
Douglas made a high-risk, high-reward play with his first pick as a general manager. If it pays off, Becton will be protecting Sam Darnold‘s blindside for a long time. If it doesn’t, the Jets will be set back years.
Mekhi Becton was a three-year starter for Louisville. A four-star prospect out of high school, Becton was expected to make an immediate impact for Lousiville. That’s what he did, starting 10 games at right tackle as a freshman.
Becton came back his sophomore season and split time between the two tackle spots. He started 10 games at left tackle and two games at right tackle.
In his final season at Louisville, Becton started all 11 games at left tackle.
Becton played against elite competition while at Louisville. It may not compare to a regular SEC schedule, but Becton matched up against Clemson (Clelin Ferrell), Florida State (Brian Burns), Boston College (Zach Allen), Kentucky (Josh Allen), Mississipi State (Montez Sweat), Alabama (Terrell Lewis), and Notre Dame (Julian Okwara). That’s a fierce schedule of pass rushers who are all either in the NFL or will be soon.
Becton graded out as an elite run blocker by Pro Football Focus although PFF wasn’t as bullish on his pass-blocking ability. They credited him with eight pressures on 73 true pass-rush snaps in 2019. That’s an 11% rate, which won’t stand in the NFL.
Becton is an athletic marvel. Guys his size shouldn’t be able to move as well as he does. Becton stands at 6-foot-7 and 364 pounds. He’s a mountain of a man and his strength matches it. He routinely throws full-grown men across the field in his tape.
He ran a 5.10 40-yard dash at the combine, which is a record for someone his size. His lateral quickness and his ability to move into the second level is outstanding. It’s what makes him such a dangerous run blocker.
Even more impressive is that Becton was measured at 17% body fat at the NFL Combine. That made him the most in-shape offensive lineman in the class. Impressive for a guy that at least one scout said, “loves to cook and eat more than he loves frigging football.”
Mekhi Becton has the highest ceiling in this class due to his combination of size, athleticism, and pure dominance as a finisher. When he’s allowed to hit people in open space or man-to-man, Becton dominated.
He tossed people around on the field or put them down on the ground. That’s what he does best, and it’s why I’ve graded him as the best finisher in the class, and the best I’ve seen since Quenton Nelson.
Becton excels in the run game. He loves getting out in front and leading the way for his backs. He uses his unbelievable strength and athleticism to create holes big enough for Lousiville to run for over 2,700 yards on 563 carries—they ran for 4.9 yards per carry.
Becton is a strong fit for a zone-blocking scheme. His athleticism in the open field and his ability to transition cleanly in pass protection means he’s a natural fit for head coach Adam Gase‘s scheme.
Lastly, Becton will simply not be beaten by pure physical attributes. His monstrous physical attributes make it incredibly difficult for any pass rusher to beat him with pure power or speed. He showed an uncanny ability to neutralize those one-note pass rushers at Louisville.
Becton is incredibly raw as a pass protector due to the offense he played at Louisville. The offense relied heavily on running the ball and quick screens, which means that Becton saw a limited number of pass-blocking reps.
That’s not going to be a good look for him year one. He’ll likely be a nightmare pass blocking his rookie year, which isn’t a huge concern. Most rookie tackles struggle mightily year one and make huge jumps year two. The issue is that a huge jump for Becton would be to average not elite. The road to strong pass protection out of Becton will likely be a long one.
Becton is especially susceptible to strong pass-rush technique. NFL rushers who rely heavily on technique rather than physical attributes will likely give Becton fits.
Becton also has some character issues. Most notably Becton failed his drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Douglas said he’s spoken with Becton and his former coaches about the incident and he feels it’s a one time mistake.
When asked about the incident by the media Thursday night Becton said “It was a messed-up drug test, you know. I made a mistake, a young mistake that won’t happen again. It was a one-time mistake that’s never going to happen again.”
There are also questions about Becton’s size impacting his long-term career. It’s rare for players Becton’s size to have long careers in the NFL because their bodies become harder to maintain. The size weighs on their knees and back making them more injury-prone, and it’s harder to keep off the weight.
Douglas said he doesn’t believe Becton’s weight is an issue, and it likely won’t be anytime soon. However, it could have an effect on his ability to be the New York Jets left tackle for the next decade.