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New York Jets First Round Pick Mekhi Becton

A left tackle with superior upside

North Carolina State v Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Mekhi Becton is a massive man whose first name means “he who is like a god.” When you watch him you will see why it is apropos.

The selection of Becton as the first pick of Joe Douglas as Jets general manager confirms the commitment to strengthen the offensive line. Joe said, “I will do everything in my power to take care of Sam, with protection and playmakers.” I think this statement was shown to be true with those first two picks of Becton and Denzel Mims.

Make no mistake. Becton was the choice for the Jets all along, standing 6’ 7 3/8” 364 lbs with 35 5/8” arms, 10 3/4” hands and owning a wingspan of nearly 7 feet. The Jets are counting on Mekhi is to be the keystone of the offensive line for years to come. Douglas was near giddy when he stated, “I can’t tell you how excited we are to add him to our team.”

Becton was the #1 offensive line recruit from the state of Virginia back in 2017. He spent 3 years with the Cardinals (2017 - 2019) playing in 35 games and starting 33. He was often asked to play both tackle spots in the same game. He was known at Louisville as “The Big Ticket.” He didn’t disappoint when he played.

His head coach Scott Satterfield appreciated what Mekhi brought to his team, “He played a huge role, not only in our turnaround on offense, but within the entire team. He showed how dominating a player he can be with our ability to run the football this season.”

Becton was the first Louisville lineman to be First Team All ACC. He won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best blocking lineman in the conference. Becton had a nasty attitude on the field. He intimidated players who sought out indirect routes around him rather than engaging. Still Becton had over 60 pancake blocks in 2019.

Becton takes up so much room where he stands. When he extends his arms he creates an advantage for himself. He is so strong that he doesn’t have to roll his hips to drive block his man. His reach is so long that he is able to keep his feet “clean” unencumbered by his opponents’ knees, legs or feet tripping him up. He can keep great balance because of this even though he is a little top heavy.

Here he washes down the defensive end of Notre Dame. The defender was slanting inside but he was not able to do once he was pushed so far from the play. Once Becton has you under control you are pretty much done for that play. Mekhi is #73, and though he played mostly on the left side (95% of the time) he is the right tackle on this play.

This is a broken play where the QB scrambles for a TD because of pressure from other defenders. What you often see are huge holes in the line when Becton clears his man. He is able to dominate his man so thoroughly that his man takes out his own teammates. If you look closely you will see 3 players stacked in front of Becton when he finishes his block.

Becton has very quick feet for a man his size. He doesn’t always use good technique as he will keep his feet too close together. This hurts his power and balance, but he can learn with NFL coaching how to keep a slightly wider base which will just increase his power.

Here he is going up against a 6’ 4” 266 lb defensive end in the Notre Dame game. This play doesn’t net many yards, but it doesn’t take away the dominance that he shows. He uses his tremendous upper body strength here.

Becton has very large, powerful hands that can finish defenders once he latches on. This then allows him to use the torque from his elongated frame to literally wrench a player off his feet and away from the play. Becton takes a very strong defensive end who is used to controlling his edge completely out of the play.

This fact was not lost on Joe Douglas when he scouted Mekhi. “Obviously the first thing that jumps out about Mekhi when you see him play is the size and the ease of his ability to move, his footwork, and then his heavy hands, and how he can move people off the ball.” Douglas said. His size is impressive but even more so when you realize his 17% body fat was the lowest percentage of any of the four top offensive tackles in the 2020 NFL draft.

Watch the left side of the line on this next play and how it just disappears as compared to the right side of the line. Becton actually makes blocks on two players even though the play wasn’t designed to do so.

I often mention “vision” in my posts when it comes to play makers (ie RB, WR). The RB on this play has exactly zero vision as Becton destroys the entire left side of the line leaving just a single off ball defender to beat around the edge. Instead the runner plows straight into the mosh pit of players. This was a big play if the runner would press the hole then jump cut put to his left.

Here is another play that didn’t do much, but it was no fault of Becton. He is going up against Julian Okwara who was drafted with the third pick in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions. Okwara is quick, but he is still 6’ 4 1/2” 249 lbs, and he looks small next to Becton.

Becton uses a single punch, but it is very accurate. Plus he punches “up and and out,” a technique designed to take away the leverage of the defender. Becton’s punch starts low then is directed up and lands at the top of the numbers. This lifts the defender slightly off the ground. By doing so he takes away all leverage. Okwara goes flying. Also look how fluid Becton move in space chasing Okwara. That is a huge man moving like that.

Becton doesn’t only have to rely on his size and power to win the battle. You saw the elite movement skills he showed for a man his size. He can also use those feet to get on the correct side of the block placing that behemoth of a body between the defender and the ball carrier. It also hinders linebackers who are scraping behind the line.

This is how to seal a hole to the outside. Once the TE is able to get a seal block the hole is wide open for the runner. The Jets saw this type of blocking and realized how great it would be on long stretch plays to Becton’s side. Once he closes off that lane it only takes a few blocks to create a big play.

Remember the player earlier with zero vision? Remember Le’Veon Bell has some of the best vision of an back in the NFL. Although he is not a great stretch type runner he will appreciate the hole and know what to do with it.

This next play is run to the opposite side of the formation. When scouting you can sometimes learn more about a prospect when the play is run away from him than when it is run to his side. Becton doesn’t take the play off.

First he comes off quick out of a 3 point stance. He will not be in a 3 point stance while with the Jets, but it’s nice to see the quickness. He only has to get in the way of the defensive end but chooses to rough him up on a play away from him. This is very nice, he throws the end aside but then keeps coming at him.

Coach Adam Gase likes that type of play. It inspires others. “He brings an edge to us, he brings nasty to our offensive line room, anytime you can add a guy like that, you’re fired up as a coaching staff.” Gase said. It is the type of play that makes others on the line try a little harder.

Movement, quick movement with a purpose, is essential to offensive line play. On this next play Becton is uncovered so his man to block is an off ball WILL linebacker who he probably outweighs by 100 lbs. Just to make it to him is a challenge, to make a sealing block is A+.

Becton has to take 4 steps before he can get to the linebacker, but he moves so quickly that by the time the linebacker reads the play Becton is in his face. Becton also slants inside to the left of the linebacker to get into the correct position to keep the linebacker (or anyone else) away from the play. He also establishes a strong wide base. There is no way Becton’s man is getting anywhere near the play. This would be considered excellent movement skills even for a player who was 50 lbs lighter. He doesn’t even look like a 6’ 7” 364 lb man.

Becton’s game is not totally defined by his movement skills or his agility by a huge man His play is more about dominating at the line of scrimmage. Make him feel overmatched, then increase the dominance until he either becomes irrelevant in the game. This next clip is in the same game the next time Louisville has the ball.

Watch the defensive end who is lined up against Becton on this play. This is a player who is ready to do battle. He comes off the ball quickly, staying low to increase his leverage. He is giving an all out effort on the play. The DE tries to throw his best punch into Becton’s chest but is uprooted then thrown aside before he can do so. Becton caught his power then threw him on a 90 degree angle away from the play. Becton then gets in great position with a strong wide base. The defensive end is going nowhere on this play. This is total domination by an offensive lineman. Even in college you rarely see a defender overmatched like he is on the play.

Okay we have seen elite movement and supreme powe. Now how about pass blocking? This is an area the scouts worried about the most, and it is a genuine concern. NFL edge rushers are a rare breed. These players have honed their skills for years and made pass rushing its own art form. These next few clips we look at pass sets.

This next clip is more about form than execution as the edge rusher is not some speed demon, but it gives you a quick look at the makeup of Becton’s pass sets. The first thing you notice is the extreme size that Becton has. I mean he has his right foot on or close to the line of scrimmage while his left foot is nearly two feet into the backfield, and he is still very well balanced. I can’t remember anyone in the NFL with a wider stance than this.

Once the ball is snapped Becton eats up about a half a yard with every kick slide step. This is actually about an average amount of distance to traverse with each step. The difference is that some players will struggle to get that much depth, but Becton does so easily. While moving Becton is able to keep good knee bend and stay well balanced while moving back at a nice 45 degree angle. He keeps his arms outstretched to begin with so he can react quickly to a quick burst to the outside or a counter move inside. He has it all covered. Once his man commits to the straight angle towards him, Becton brings his hands inside then delivers a solid punch to the chest. Having near 36’ arms is a huge advantage, especially when you are controlling the edge of the line.

Now the kick slide is nice, but he should try to slide his feet more rather than picking them up off the ground and back again. NFL edge rushers will see this then try to time their punch to coincide when his feet are off the ground. This can throw him off balance, allowing the defender a chance at the edge or the inside route. This is a minor detail that I’m sure will be worked on. Overall it still is adequate.

This next clip is of a basic pass set. Louisville didn’t do a lot of straight drop back passing because their QB isn’t really that type of passer. For that reason Becton had by far the least amount of true pass sets than any of the big 4 tackles in the 2020 Draft. When you perform a task much less than others you will most likely be less polished than them. This doesn’t mean you are any less in ability to do so. You just have had less practice.

You can see a very controlled pass set that is highly effective in this situation. If Von Miller was rushing there could have been more drama, but Miller creates drama for every left tackle. Becton makes this particular play look very simple.

The last clip is of Becton using a jump set to his advantage. A jump set does two things for an offensive lineman. First he uses this type of blocking technique when the pass is going to come out quickly. A offensive tackle usually uses what is called a vertical set just like the last two clips. By using the jump set he initiates quick contact with the defender which should keep his hands down. A lineman doesn’t have to worry about a sack because the pass is coming out very quickly Second, by using the jump set it keeps the defender guessing on the blocking scheme. If you set the same way all the time the defender can time up his moves better because he knows what to expect.

You can see Becton start back like a normal pass set then stop to catch the defender by surprise. The defense has a surprise of its own as they are trying a TE (tackle-end) stunt, but the timing is messed up by the jump set. ecton moves off his man to control the tackle who is trying to slip around him.

The pass is supposed to go to the Z receiver who is doing a dig and out, but it is well covered. Fortunately the X receiver beats his coverage. He is wide open for the TD. The play took a little longer than expected, but the result was better than anticipated.

Summary

Mekhi Becton is a superior prospect who is only beginning his football career. Remember he was in high school only 3 short years ago so all these analysts worrying that his pass sets are not perfect are just stating the obvious. If Becton did have great technique he would be a marvel beyond his years. Mekhi only turned 21 years old a couple of weeks ago. It takes time to develop technique when you are still growing.

Becton just needs to develop with some NFL coaching, but he has things you can’t teach like size, elite movement skills, and a desire to dominate his opponents. I could see where some quality speed rushers could give him some problems. My suggestion would be to work on the technique, lose about 15 lbs to increase quickness ,and work on his strength. Sure he is strong, but as long as he remains flexible enough an increase in strength would only enhance his game.

The real worry about Becton has little to do with his game and more to do with the unknown. No player his size and weight has ever excelled as a left tackle before. Yet the same things were thought about Willie Roaf 6’ 5” 320 lbs and Orlando Pace 6’ 7” 325 lbs in their Draft process. Now both are in the Hall of Fame. Football is a dynamic sport that is always evolving yet football pundits are usually the ones who are the least accepting of change. No one is putting Mekhi Becton in the Hall of Fame just yet. He has a lot of growth needed to attain that lofty status, but I would not rule him out heedlessly. Let’s see him play a game first and go from there. It’s the only fair thing to do for he who is like a God.

That is what I think.

What do you think?