How the New York Jets can replace Mekhi Becton
It appears that New York Jets right tackle Mekhi Becton will miss significant time with an injury to his knee cap and patella. While there is still more testing to be done and an official timetable has yet to be revealed by the team, it has been reported that there is “legitimate fear” Becton’s 2022 season could be over.
General manager Joe Douglas is currently working hard at finding a contingency plan. Here are some of his best options.
Duane Brown visited with the Jets late last week. He even attended the team’s Green & White Scrimmage, spending time on the sidelines speaking to Douglas and owner Woody Johnson.
The five-time Pro Bowler will turn 37 years old by the end of this month, but he still appeared to be around an average-level starter for the Seahawks last season, ranking as Pro Football Focus’s 18th-best left tackle. He is probably the Jets’ best option from a talent perspective, even considering his age.
Brown also offers a solid track record of durability. He did not miss a game over the past two seasons and has played an average of 14.5 games per season throughout his career.
However, Brown’s lack of positional versatility could be a cause for concern. Brown has only played at left tackle in his career. He has yet to take a snap at right tackle. If Brown were to join the Jets’ starting lineup, then either he or George Fant would have to move away from their preferred left tackle position.
The former Jets fifth-round pick started 40 games over four seasons in New York, although he could never quite develop into a quality starter. However, Shell showed progress over the following two seasons in Seattle, improving to around the level of an average starter. Shell ranked as Pro Football Focus’s No. 16 right tackle in 2021 and their No. 13 right tackle in 2020.
Durability is a concern with Shell as he missed 12 games over the past two seasons. On the positive side, he is ready to slide in at right tackle, as every one of his career starts came at that position.
Eric Fisher had a rough pass-blocking season for the Colts in 2021, as he ranked 61st out of 67 qualified tackles with an allowed pressure rate of 8.4%. He did perform well as a run-blocker, though. The former No. 1 overall pick also offers a good track record of durability, as he has played at least 15 games in seven of his last eight seasons.
Fisher logged plenty of reps at right tackle during his first three seasons in the league but has not lined up there since 2015.
Bryan Bulaga was consistently one of the NFL’s best pass-blocking tackles during his heyday with the Packers. Now 33 years old, Bulaga remains unsigned due to his lack of durability.
Bulaga signed with the Chargers in 2020 and ended up playing only 11 games for L.A. over two seasons. That includes just one game in 2021 as he was placed on injured reserve with groin and back injuries.
If Bulaga can come anywhere close to his former peaks, he could be a useful stopgap. In 2019, his last fully-healthy season, Bulaga ranked as Pro Football Focus’s 7th-best right tackle in the NFL.
At 33 years old, Bobby Massie can still provide respectable play in the starting lineup. He’s consistently provided around league-average production throughout his career, even up through the 2021 season. As a member of the Broncos in 2021, Massie ranked as PFF’s 13th-best right tackle.
Massie has only lined up at right tackle in his career. Durability is a concern for him as he missed four games in 2021 and has missed 19 games total over the past three seasons.
Set to turn 30 at the end of this month, Daryl Williams is one of the younger options on this list.
Williams has some good seasons under his belt at right tackle, but everything came crashing down in 2021. After a sluggish start at right tackle, the Bills pushed him inside to right guard, and it’s in that spot where his play began to improve.
It might be best for the Jets to avoid Williams, although I figured it was worth mentioning him here since he’s one of the bigger names on the market. Just last year, the Bills signed Williams to a three-year, $24 million extension as a reward for his strong play at right tackle in 2020 (ranking as PFF’s 10th-best RT). But things simply did not carry over into 2021.
Williams does offer reliability as he has not missed a game since 2018.
Teven Jenkins (trade)
The Chicago Bears selected Teven Jenkins in the second round of the 2021 NFL draft. Jenkins only played in six games (two starts) during his rookie year after undergoing back surgery prior to the year.
Rumors have been circling that the Bears are shopping Jenkins. It’s obviously concerning when a team shops its own second-round pick this early in his career (although the Bears have a new regime in place), but Jenkins’s talent is enticing. Perhaps Douglas and the Jets could buy low on him.
Jenkins played left tackle as a rookie. In college, he played on both sides, primarily lining up on the right.
Andre Dillard (trade)
Andre Dillard was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the 2019 draft, but has been unable to emerge as a starter over three years in Philly. Dillard has started only nine games in his career.
Due to the emergence of Jordan Mailata and the continued excellence of Lane Johnson, Dillard is left without a path to a starting role in Philadelphia, making him an attractive trade target for teams who are intrigued by his upside. At only 26 years old, Dillard still has the potential to develop into a useful starter.
Dillard showed in 2021 that he could at least be a competent starter. Over a limited sample of 340 snaps, Dillard earned a 69.6 overall grade from PFF, ranking him 45th out of 85 tackles to play at least 300 snaps.
Dillard has mostly played left tackle in his career, although he made one start at right tackle in 2019 (and struggled mightily in that game). All of his college snaps came at left tackle.
Joe Douglas was the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel when Dillard was drafted by the team.