Mekhi Becton is the recipient of some unwarranted criticism
How quickly they forget.
Based on the chatter seen around social media, it seems that some New York Jets fans have completely forgotten about the dominant play that left tackle Mekhi Becton put on display as a rookie last year. The 21-year-old showcased a level of dominance along the offensive line that the Jets haven’t seen since Nick Mangold retired.
The concerns around Becton started in 2020 after a few minor injuries led to him missing time. The Jets were cautious with Becton, as they have been with most rookies, sitting him for minor injuries to avoid long-term detriment.
This started a field day in the offseason for sports analysts who already labeled Becton as overweight and an over-hyped prospect from the day he declared for the draft. This is despite his displays of superb athleticism on the field in addition to his off-season workout videos debunking any claims that he was out of shape.
— Jets X-Factor (@jetsxfactor) July 14, 2021
After an impressive rookie campaign that saw him named to NFL.com‘s All-Under 25 Team, Becton had sky-high expectations for year two. Already considered an above-average tackle, a poll of NFL executives even ranked Becton as the sixth-best tackle in the NFL heading into 2021.
However, enthusiasm evaporated after Becton suffered a knee injury in Week 1. In the third quarter, Jets guard Greg Van Roten fell into the back of Becton’s leg on the play in which Zach Wilson threw his first career touchdown. It was confirmed shortly after to be a sprained MCL from dislocating his knee cap.
Following surgery, it was expected to take Becton only four to eight weeks to recover. Unfortunately, Becton never returned to the field in the 2021 season.
And just like that, many people consider Becton a bust or want to trade him away. Critics continue to obsess over his weight and some rumors go as far as to say there’s a rift forming between the coaching staff and the front office regarding Becton.
It’s time to disprove some growing critiques of Mekhi Becton and remember why he’s the New York Jets’ franchise left tackle.
Mekhi Becton was good in pass protection
One of the biggest arguments people have against Becton is that he struggles with pass protection. While this was true coming out of the draft, it was quickly disproven on the field.
Becton finished with a pass-blocking grade of 76.0 at Pro Football Focus in 2020, which ranked 27th out of 63 qualified tackles.
How strong was the competition that he faced, though?
Well, on the year, Becton faced off against star edge rushers like Myles Garrett, Bradley Chubb, Justin Houston, Frank Clark, Nick Bosa, Joey Bosa, and Melvin Ingram.
Mekhi Becton has elite recovery skills in pass pro. Here’s some reps on Sunday vs Nick Bosa. The first one Bosa goes inside and gets dumped. On the second one, Bosa swipes his hands down but Becton is in great body position, plus he’s a massive human, and recovers well. pic.twitter.com/WuJ94AodR4
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) September 22, 2020
In five games against those players, Becton allowed only one sack and eight total pressures. Outside of a tough battle against Garrett in which he gave up four pressures, Becton allowed a measly total of four pressures in the other four games against those aforementioned players. If that’s not high-level pass protection, I don’t know what is.
It’s still too early to label Mekhi Becton “injury-prone”
Injuries have been an unfortunate story to start Becton’s career as he’s now missed 18 out of 33 games in two years. A shoulder injury and later a chest injury caused him to miss two games as a rookie. He only played about 70% of possible snaps in 2020.
This concern has grown since Becton was unable to return from injury this year. Despite being given a four-to-eight-week recovery timetable, Becton ended up missing the rest of the season.
Given his size and the Jets’ cautious approach with young players, I expected Becton to return after seven to twelve weeks. There’s been a lot of speculation as to why he never returned.
Plenty of people emphasized his weight and conditioning as a primary culprit. Some reports even went as far as saying Becton wasn’t motivated to return.
However, prior to the NFL, Becton’s health or weight wasn’t an issue despite playing at the same size. Over three years at Louisville, Becton played over 2,200 snaps and only missed one game with a minor ankle injury.
Overall, it is definitely concerning how much time Becton has missed. However, it’s far too early to label him as a bust or injury-prone. George Fant missed the same amount of games his first two years with the Seahawks and has since become a very durable player. Plus, half of the Jets’ team has missed significant time the last two years.
Injuries frequently strike younger players as they develop their bodies for the rigor of the NFL, especially over these last two years due to the limitations placed upon offseason training by the pandemic.
Speculation of Mekhi Becton’s weight is severely overblown
Mekhi Becton is a large player. He is actually the ninth-heaviest player in NFL history. Ironically, the Jets had two other players in the top ten, Robert Griffin (10th, 361 pounds) and T.J. Barnes (tied with Becton at 364 pounds).
Of the eight players heavier than Becton, four had successful careers where they played for a cumulative 45 years – William Perry, Bryant McKinnie, Nate Newton, and the active Trent Brown.
Most notably, not a single one of those players can hold a candle to Becton’s athleticism. Becton’s 5.1 time in the 40-yard dash was the fastest ever run by someone over 350 pounds.
Another indicator that weight concerns are overblown is Becton’s ridiculously low BMI. At the combine, Becton had a mere 17 percent body fat, 8 percent lower than the average offensive lineman.
FWIW: Louisville’s 6-foot-7, 364-pound OT Mekhi Becton, the largest player at this week’s Combine in Indianapolis, got measured with a mere 17 percent body fat.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 28, 2020
Yes, Becton is huge, few humans are larger. It’s definitely something that he and the Jets will monitor moving forward. However, it’s been way overblown since day one. Until it impacts his play on the field, I’m not going to obsess over it.
Mekhi Becton dominates in both phases of the game
While there is a lot of talk regarding Becton’s pass protection, people glaze over his dominance as a run blocker. I wish pancakes were a recorded stat because Becton was serving them up on the regular.
It’s crazy how fast narratives change in the NFL.
I’m looking forward to Mekhi Becton getting back this season and continuing to develop into an all pro stud (@BigTicket73)
— NYJ MIKE (@NyjMike) September 17, 2021
Notably, out of 55 tackles that played at least 650 snaps in 2020, Becton is one of only 15 that graded in the top 25 in both run blocking and pass blocking.
Mekhi Becton is a stud on the field. He just needs to stay on it
Mekhi Becton is one of the best young tackles in the NFL and I have confidence he can become one of the best tackles in the NFL. He just needs to stay on the field.
I believe issues regarding his weight and health are severely overblown but there are legitimate concerns. However, nobody at Louisville or New York has said it’s an issue.
In response to constant questions, coaches simply say they’re monitoring it and communicating the expectations. Most of the rumors are speculative and do not stem from those close to Becton.
With a full offseason to get in shape and a long list of doubters/haters, I believe Becton will have a monstrous 2022 season. If Becton’s Twitter is any indication, he believes the same.
Mfers forgot who i am…say less pic.twitter.com/xipLfPlDCM
— Trending Topic 🤫 (@BigTicket73) December 3, 2021
Mekhi Becton will re-establish himself in 2022
Coming out of the draft Becton was considered the rawest of the top four tackle prospects (Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Williams, Tristan Wirfs) and yet dominated from day one. He also got better as the season went on.
Over the final seven weeks of the 2020 season, Becton had a 78.3 pass-blocking grade and a 72.4 run-blocking grade. Those marks ranked ninth and 10th, respectively, among qualified left tackles over that span. Only five other tackles were top ten in both categories over those games.
He wasn’t doing this against an easy schedule either. In those seven games, he faced off against stars Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Maxx Crosby, and Myles Garrett.
Becton vs Bosa. Becton jump sets Bosa to sell the play action. Becton lands the right inside while maintaining his IS lev. Bosa tries to rip IS but Becton is able to keeps hands on and match him. Bosa spins OS defeating the OS hand, Becton drops his post and matches. Good rep. pic.twitter.com/gaN64hgS06
— Joe Blewett (@Joerb31) December 7, 2020
Even if he hasn’t been able to practice he’s still been learning from offensive line coach John Benton, one of the best and most experienced OL coaches in the NFL. Jets fans have already seen the impact he’s made on the Jets’ offensive line.
Another huge benefit for Becton is his new teammate. Alijah Vera-Tucker has impressed in year one, especially as a run blocker. Becton’s life will be a lot easier playing next to him compared to Alex Lewis and Pat Eflein. Becton himself had sky-high expectations for the pairing, comparing himself and AVT to Jordan and Pippen.
In the end, if you start sleeping on Mekhi Becton, you’re gonna regret it.
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