Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted prior to Sunday’s season opening loss to the Panthers, in which Mekhi Becton suffered a dislocated kneecap.
Mekhi Becton, LT, was selected 11th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. Becton played college football at Louisville for three years, receiving first team All-ACC honors in final season in 2019.
I got a brief opportunity to speak with the New York Jets starting left tackle as he starts his “Made for Jets Watching” campaign with Pepsi. This campaign helps gets Jets fans ready for Game Day with an interactive, recipe-focused AR experience featuring Mekhi Becton. Viewers can bring the content to life and get Becton’s help creating Pepsi BBQ sauce and other recipes in their own home - and an opportunity to win plenty of great prizes. Below is a transcript of my brief interview with Mekhi. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Thomas Christopher: When I spoke to Nick Mangold, he told me the biggest challenge going from college to the NFL was the professionalism of the game. What was the biggest difference going from college to the NFL for you?
Mekhi Becton: This may sound a little crazy, but the biggest difference for me was Covid and the pandemic. That was really the biggest speed bump for me last year. Having to go through the tests and protocols every day. Also, the length of the 16-game NFL season. Those were probably the biggest adjustment for me going to the NFL.
TC: When you got drafted to the New York Jets, was there a player on the team that you looked to as a mentor? If so, who was it?
MB: Yeah. To me, that player was George Fant. He’s the other tackle on the team. He pretty much took me under his wing from the beginning. George taught me everything that I needed to fix in my game, and helped me with the things I was doing right. That’s one of the guys that I’ve definitely looked at for guidance since joining the Jets.
TC: George is a great guy. Now that you’re getting experience of your own, will you look to pass that torch so to speak?
MB: Oh yeah, for sure. For sure.
TC: Heading into your second season, what would you like to improve the most on as a player?
MB: This year I would like to improve on my hand placement and my footwork. Sometimes those things, they can get out of whack. I can get turned in my set and things like that. Those would be the two things that I’d like to fix the most going forward.
TC: Is there anything specific you’ve done to prepare for these changes?
MB: Yeah I’ve actually been staying late after practice, getting reps in trying to improve, and get better. Things of that nature.
TC: I know you’re a competitive guy. Are there any games that you have circled on the schedule this season?
MB: I actually don’t really have any matchups circled this season. I have every game of the season circled pretty much, honestly. I go into every game the same exact way, and don’t look past anybody.
TC: This year is somewhat of a new era for the Jets, as they brought in a new head coach, Robert Saleh. What was your first impression of coach Saleh?
MB: Coach Saleh brings a lot of energy. He’s a good guy. He’s never sugar-coated anything, and he will tell you exactly the way it is. That’s what you need and look for from a coach as a player. I think that it’s great.
TC: How do you see this season playing out for the team this year?
MB: I don’t want to speak too much into the future and get ahead of myself. But I’m really, really confident in myself and the team this season for sure.
TC: Now you’ve partnered with Pepsi for the “Made for Jets Watching” campaign. Can you tell me a bit about that, and why it’s important to you?
MB: Yeah, it was great. I did a photoshoot and a commercial for Pepsi for this campaign. It really means a lot to me. My family uses a lot of Pepsi products, so it was great. Things like this are a dream come true for me honestly. I’m doing things, and working with people whose products my parents and family use. It’s really great.
TC: That’s great. As someone who grew up without many opportunities myself, it’s fantastic to see players have the opportunity to give back and impact their community. That’s it from me Mekhi, thank you for your time I appreciate you speaking with me.
MB: Absolutely, thank you.