It’s easy to read too much into the early stages of training camp. You shouldn’t attach too much significance to optimistic appraisals of new players or ones that are primed to make a jump this season because a lot of platitudes are thrown around in the early stages, often before any real progress has been made.
However, every now and again, you’ll hear a nugget that could have a lot of significance. One such comment, although it didn’t get too much in the way of media attention, came from Connor McGovern’s zoom conference after the first practice with media access on Friday morning.
In the comments, which were relayed by Charles Robinson from the Daily News on twitter and Kimberly Jones on NFL Network, McGovern remarked how the difference between blocking in the pros and at the college level is that you can lose within the first two steps in the pros and said that George Fant had been doing extra with rookie Mekhi Becton to develop his footwork.
What’s interesting about these comments is that when we broke down Becton’s film after the draft, there were a lot of specific examples of where and how this was happening to Becton, although he was usually able to recover because of his size and athleticism. McGovern’s comments could be seen as a warning that he might not be able to recover as easily against pro-level opposition.
In our analysis, we noted multiple examples of where Becton’s footwork was less than perfect, but concluded that if Becton could fix these inefficiencies in his footwork, it could make him all the more capable of being dominant in the running game and much more difficult to get past in pass protection.
The next question becomes whether Fant is the right guy to be working with Becton on making these improvements to his game. If you listen to analysts and media pundits, Fant is a fringe starter at best and not worthy of the contract the Jets gave him.
However, if you’ve spent any time reviewing Fant’s film, it’s clear he was a totally different player over the past few years than he was in his rookie season. He held up well in some tricky match-ups and was far more consistent overall. More importantly, he showed technical improvements, notably in the running game and when dealing with a bull rush in pass protection.
You can tell Fant has been well-coached by Tom Cable in Seattle and hopefully he can pass on some of those things to the rookie Becton.
Although the pair figure to be starting on opposite sides of the line, Fant has experience of playing on both sides, so he’ll be able to advise Becton and prepare him for either role.
During the offseason, there’s been a lot of talk about whether Chuma Edoga could earn a starting role this year, but the Jets seem to have confidence in the Becton-Fant pairing at this time. Edoga was a promising draft prospect too, though, so hopefully he’s also benefiting from Fant’s advice.
It’s clear the Jets view Fant as a player with upside and the fact he’s also providing leadership, reportedly staying on the field for extra work with Becton when practice ended on Friday, is an added bonus.
So far, it looks like Becton has been working as the first team left tackle, which is a good sign because it means everything is on schedule in terms of the Jets being confident enough in Becton’s ability to start as the blindside pass protector.
Of course, there’s always a chance he could hit the rookie wall. Then again, if Alex Lewis is to be believed, perhaps Becton is the rookie wall.