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Mekhi Becton’s pass protection deserves more praise (Film)

Mekhi Becton
(Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images)

Everyone has seen highlights of Mekhi Becton laying out defenders as a run blocker, but he has plenty of talent as a pass protector, too.

Anyone who has paid any attention to the New York Jets over the past year has certainly seen their share of highlight reels featuring big No. 77 plowing over world-class athletes in the run game. At 364 pounds with ridiculously long arms, freakish athleticism, and a great feel for accurately squaring up his opponents in space, Mekhi Becton is already one of the most intimidating run blockers in the league despite having only 14 games under his belt.

While Becton’s triumphs in the run game are certainly worth marveling at, his unique highlight-worthiness in that phase has led to his abilities in the passing game being overlooked. Becton offers just as much elite potential in pass protection as he does in the run game. His pass-blocking performance as a 21-year-old rookie left tackle was nothing short of admirable.

Becton earned a pass blocking grade of 76.0 at Pro Football Focus, which ranked at the 66th percentile among qualified tackles. He finished the season on an upward trend, posting a 78.3 pass blocking grade from Weeks 11-17. That ranked at the 83rd percentile among all tackles over that span, including ninth-best among left tackles.

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The young rookie was able to put up those numbers against a schedule that included star edge rushers like Myles Garrett, Bradley Chubb, Justin Houston, Frank Clark, Joey Bosa, and Melvin Ingram.

Let’s dive into some examples of Becton getting the job done in pass protection.

In Week 4, Becton was able to get a few battles against Bradley Chubb before leaving the game with a shoulder injury. Chubb is one of the best left tackle-defeating edge rushers in football, ranking fifth in the NFL with 47 pressures from the offense’s left side.

Becton extends his inside hand in case he needs to help out with the defensive tackle. He refocuses to Chubb on the edge. Chubb comes in aggressively and throws both hands looking for a bull rush, but Becton wins with his remarkable length, getting hands-on first as he fires his hands into Chubb’s shoulders and keeps a firm grip of the sleeves to win the rep.

Great patience and hands from Becton. Chubb rushes Becton from a wide-9 alignment, standing up outside of the tight end. Becton gets into his 45-degree set and squares him up, staying patient. Chubb throws an outside head fake, which Becton does not bite on, and then gets into the bull rush. Chubb’s hands come in high, landing around Becton’s upper body, so Becton comes from underneath and pushes them upward. Chubb goes to Plan B and looks to turn the corner but Becton is able to flip his hips and shield the pocket.

With his 35⅝-inch arms (95th percentile among OT all-time), Becton has so much length that he can get hands-on first even if he waits to throw his punch until the opponent throws his hands first. This gives him the luxury of being able to stay patient and read his opponent before throwing his hands.

An added bonus offered by Becton in the passing game is his ability to make a big impact when helping out a teammate. He routinely shoves defenders into the ground to completely eliminate their chances of affecting the play.

The Jets sell a wide zone to the right side. Becton ranges down the line and gives a blindside shot to the 2i-technique, who is engaged with Alex Lewis (left guard). Becton sends him flying, creating a clean pocket and a wide-open throwing lane up the middle.

In Week 2, Becton faced off against Nick Bosa a few times before Bosa left the game with a season-ending injury, and Becton looked up to the task in a mano e mano battle between two powerful young players.

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