Two years ago, New York Jets tackle Mekhi Becton was a budding superstar coming off an all-rookie season as a first year left tackle.
Today, New York Jets tackle Mekhi Becton has basically become a walking punchline among Jets fans who have regularly opted to describe him with adjectives like “lazy,” “fat,” and “bad” coming off two seasons marred by injury that saw him play all of one total half of professional football.
To put it lightly, what a difference two years makes.
However, that sword cuts both ways. While Becton went from most beloved player on the roster to least liked player on the roster in a span of two years, the opposite can also happen if Becton can find a way to remain healthy and get back to the trajectory he was once on. As we all know, fans love a good comeback.
With that said, I wanted to make the argument for why Jets fans should choose to wipe the slate clean of Becton’s past failures and root for Becton to turn it around rather than opt to hold his past failures against him.
Reason 1: Simply put, Becton is the most talented lineman the Jets have. Becton’s rookie year performance was legitimately great for a rookie left tackle, as shown by his overall profootballfocus grade of 74.4 (76.0 pass blocking and 73.9 run blocking). For context, that overall grade would have made him the 22nd highest graded tackle this season... and he did it as a rookie. If the Jets can get that kind of performance (or even a better one?) out of Becton then their potential for the 2023 season significantly rises. For reference, offensive guard Alijah Vera Tucker has yet to have a season with a higher PFF grade than Becton’s year 1, despite playing a position that is generally viewed as less valuable, and is generally viewed as a very good player.
Reason 2: A healthy Becton would potentially sure up a high value position. Becton has showed he can play left tackle when healthy. Good left tackles are typically hard to come by and essentially have to be drafted because teams don’t allow them to reach free agency. In the Jets case, they already have Becton on the roster which gives them an inside edge to retain him and he’s only 24 years old, which is a few months younger than Jet’s 4th round offensive tackle selection Carter Warren. Beyond that, the Jets current left tackle is 37 year old Duane Brown who considered retiring this offseason and may not be on the roster next year. The Jets also do not have a first round pick after trading it for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, further limiting the Jets’ options to finding an adequate left tackle for the 2024 season. At the end of the day, while fans may not love or trust Becton right now, he’s basically the cleanest pathway to adequate left tackle play in 2024.
Reason 3: People change. It’s easy to forget that the guys drafted into the NFL are in their early 20s. I like to think of myself as a generally good person and pretty mature for my age, but if you’d taken 21 year old me and given him a couple of million dollars and some national fame overnight then I’m not really sure how I would’ve acted. So, yea, maybe Becton had some growing up to do if you opt to believe some of the theories as to why he’s gotten hurt (which I personally don’t put much stock into), but it’s very possible that he grew up and we all deserve the chance to do so. In Becton’s case, research suggests that people become more conscientious as they age, which would help Becton within a work context. Additionally, he recently had a child and research suggests this life event can lead to changes in personality as well.
From my perspective, the player Jets fans should most root to return to their past form is quarterback Aaron Rodgers who is a year removed from an MVP award. The second, and I don’t think it’s particularly close, is Mekhi Becton.
Despite the benefits of a Becton return to grace, there seems to be little love for him by Jets fans... and it’s understandable given the fall from grace he’s had. At the end of the day though, the past is past and nothing can be done to change the 2021 and 2022 seasons that Becton had. That doesn’t change that Becton can still be a crucial part of this team moving forward though. I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am rooting for it.