The Jets’ coaching staff is spending the week running one of the two teams in the Senior Bowl. Head coach Robert Saleh made some news on Tuesday for reasons that have nothing to do with college Draft prospects. Saleh indicated there will be a competition for the left tackle spot between Mekhi Becton and George Fant.
“As I’ve told George Fant: He has a chance to maintain that (left tackle) position. It’s the same thing for Mekhi Becton. He has to come in and reassert himself into the starting lineup.” - #Jets HC Robert Saleh— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) February 1, 2022
#Jets HC Robert Saleh on Mekhi Becton: "I think Mekhi has the skill set to do whatever he wants. He just has to put his mind to it.— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) February 1, 2022
Fant took over as left tackle after Becton suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener against Carolina and played credibly from that point forward.
Normally in the NFL players do not lose a starting spot due to injury, but there are always exceptions. Saleh’s words seem to be a challenge to Becton.
If it is based on pure ability, I would imagine Becton will win the starting job. Part of me really appreciates what the coaching staff is doing here, though. I’m not a big fan of players being handed starting roles based purely on Draft position. It happens frequently in the league, and I understand why it does. I find it a bit refreshing to hear the Jets are going based on merit. If Becton can’t play up to his talent level, and Fant outperforms him in camp, Fant should be the starter.
At the moment it isn't clear how high the stakes are. With Morgan Moses’ contract expiring, it is possible the loser of this battle just shifts to right tackle. If the Jets retain Moses or add another starting caliber tackle in free agency or the Draft, though, things could get very interesting.