Heading into the 2021 season, New York jets left tackle Mekhi Becton might be ready to enhance his game to an All-Pro level.
Now more than ever, NFL teams must build around quarterbacks to be successful. It starts in the trenches by solidifying an offensive line. The best friend of a gunslinger is not weapons on the outside, but rather the protection up front.
One team that is making sure their quarterback will have ample time in 2021 are the New York Jets. They traded back up into the top 15 to solidify the left side of the offensive line with the addition of USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker.
His running mate, Mekhi Becton, already has been a staple for gang green’s unit entering his second season. Now, some evaluators believe 16 games into his career, he has the potential to be a Hall of Fame talent.
“You look at Mekhi Becton, if you look at what Mekhi Becton brings, if that Jets offense turns around, that team turns around. If he stays healthy, he could potentially be one of the best tackles to ever play the game,” veteran offensive line developer Duke Manyweather said on FanSided’s The Matt Lombardo Show. “If you look at him at that size, those traits, I remember coming in, the big knock from everybody ‘oh, he can’t pass protect, he’s too big and Louisville never had him do it,’ but then he gets to the NFL and he’s locking people up, his first six weeks, you look at the rushers he had to face … And their production as non-existent.”
Jets: Is Becton already the next “IT” offensive tackle
Four tackles were drafted in the top 15 during the 2020 NFL Draft. The debate for OT1 went on for months, but each team seems content with the selection entering Year 2. Becton though was the biggest blunder compared to names like Wills, Andrew Thomas and Tristan Wirfs.
The 6-foot-7 Cardinals star was considered a risky selection by several draft analysts not due to his size, but rather his weight. Becton bellied up and excelled towards the end of the season despite playing for a 2-14 team. He finished the 2020 campaign as one of the top run blockers in the league and improving in pass sets.
PFF graded him out as the second-highest run blocking rookie and third-highest in pass blocking.
“Becton has an opportunity if he stays healthy, keeps his weight in check, he has the chance to be one of the greatest to ever do it,” Manyweather said. “You’re talking about Orlando Pace, Jonathan Ogden caliber physical dominance. When you see what he does to people, there’s not people out there that are doing that to other NFL players. And it’s on tape.”
The Jets are finally building around the quarterback instead of expecting him to do it all alone. Under new head coach Robert Saleh, New York added Corey Davis and Elijah Moore in the passing game to help No. 2 pick Zach Wilson. They also signed Kenny Yeboah out of OIe Miss to compete for the starting tight end role.
New York’s rebuilding status will take a year or two before results starts to kick in. The good news for Jets fans is that Becton has the chance to be special in the Big Apple.
“If you show me another offensive lineman that consistently physically, punishes, and dominates people through the course of the year, show him to me,” Manyweather said. “There’s one guy who’s done that, and that’s Mekhi Becton.”