There was plenty to love about Mekhi Becton‘s first appearance in a New York Jets uniform.
In his professional debut, the man known as “The Big Ticket” was more than worth the price of admission (well, metaphorically speaking, considering the only fan in attendance was a buffalo).
Pro Football Focus scored Becton with an overall grade of 77.2 (fitting for #77) in his NFL debut, which ranked 11th-best among all tackles and eighth-best among left tackles in Week 1. It was the best grade posted among the four tackles taken in the top-15 of this year’s draft (Jedrick Wills 45th, Tristan Wirfs 50th, Andrew Thomas 51st).
While no conclusions can be drawn after one game, be the performance good or bad, Becton looked remarkably pro-ready, flashing the wherewithal, technical proficiency, and fundamentals that he will need for his obvious physical gifts to shine.
Let’s take a look at some of what Becton showed on Sunday.
On his first run play as a Jet, Becton hits the second level and throws top-notch safety Jordan Poyer out of the screen. Quick burst off the ball and accurate targeting on the inside shoulder of Poyer. Becton makes sure to finish his prey, not quitting after the initial push and making sure his target hits the turf.
You can see a bit of an intimidation factor as Poyer hesitates to engage. Defensive backs are not exactly going to be itching to battle with this man at the second level.
At Louisville, Becton was an absolute bulldozer as a down blocker on zone plays. We are already seeing flashes of that same dominance in the NFL. Watch Becton fire off the ball, get his hands on the 4i-tech, and plow him from one hash to the other, opening up a huge amount of space on the playside.
Here’s another destructive block along the line of scrimmage from Becton. The 2i-technique hops over to the C-gap, straight into the waiting arms of Becton, who gives him a ride to Niagara Falls.
Nice staredown at the end to top it off. Intimidating, but not instigative. The kid knows how to impose his will.
On run plays, a go-to move of Becton’s at Louisville was to take an aggressive set and quickly give a forceful, upfield-directed shot to the inside shoulder of the edge defender. Becton had such a massive size and strength advantage that if he could land his punch accurately, he could send the defender out of the play in an instant. This is something that seemed questionable to translate to the NFL, but Becton flashes it here. He fires directly into the 5-technique off the snap and powerfully torques him outside, completely negating his chances of impacting the play.
That’s a risky play that smart edge defenders will anticipate and dodge to immediately get involved in the play, but if he can pick the right spots to pull it out and consistently land it with accuracy, Becton can make it a deadly weapon. Even in the NFL, his physical gifts appear to be superior enough to pull off things like that.
Becton held up well in protection against speed/outside moves. He flashed the ability to maximize his length with good technique. Against Jerry Hughes here, Becton drops into his set with quick and even steps, maintaining good balance and remaining square to his target. He catches the long-arm move from Hughes, grasps his inside shoulder, and carries him up the arc to provide a clean pocket for Sam Darnold. This is the all-too-valuable lengthy protection that Darnold did not get on the blindside edge from Kelvin Beachum.