The Jets still have questions at the offensive tackle positions ahead of their fourth and final preseason game. While the team anticipates left tackle Duane Brown’s return from the PUP list, the right side has been wide open since day one.
Max Mitchell and Billy Turner were always the top candidates but both have struggled in camp. The team has thus pivoted to Mekhi Becton — the former first-rounder is finally seeing work on the right side and earned second-team reps in Saturday’s game against the Bucs.
Becton still needs additional work at the position, sure. But believe it or not, he might actually be the best option for the job. And he’s already deserving of first-team reps.
Even if Becton’s in-game experience on the right side is minimal (25 snaps against the Bucs), he has more potential than the second-year Mitchell and veteran backup Turner. And the coaching staff wouldn’t be giving Becton reps at right tackle if it didn’t feel that way. Even after he just suffered the second of two long-term injuries playing the position in last year’s training camp.
If the staff actually believed in Mitchell or Turner starting on the right side, the Jets would’ve kept Becton as the second-team left tackle instead of switching him to the opposite side with the same unit. The regular season is approaching and time is running out to salvage these offensive line issues — the staff realized what it needed to do by granting Becton reps on the right side.
But it’s not just Mitchell and Turner’s struggles that are the reason Becton should assume the right tackle role. The 24-year-old is actually showing he can hold his own at the position. He held up well in the passing game against Tampa with Zach Wilson and Tim Boyle his quarterbacks, and made a key block on a productive run for rookie running back Israel Abanikanda. So he’s certainly developing.
The main concern with Becton is his ability to play a full game after his back-to-back knee injuries. That’s why he’s yet to play with the first-team offense. But he’s off to a great start in the race to secure the right tackle position, which is not something we thought we’d be writing when camp began a month ago. He just needs to remain healthy and consistent.
If Becton continues to develop at the position in both camp and the final preseason game this Saturday vs. the Giants, he should absolutely be considered for the Week 1 starting job. The Jets may not have much else of a choice anyway as the Sept. 11 season opener nears.