Mekhi Becton, NY Jets, Film, HOF, Game, Preseason, 2023
Mekhi Becton, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton looked sharp in his return vs. Cleveland

It had been 690 days since the last time Mekhi Becton played in a real football game. But after a long road back, the former first-round pick finally made his return, suiting up for the New York Jets in their preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.

The 24-year-old behemoth started at left tackle and played seven offensive snaps. Unfortunately, it was not a clean day for Becton in the durability department. Becton left the game early due to knee soreness; head coach Robert Saleh said Becton “felt it” in his knee. Becton also stated he did not feel the turf in Canton was good for his knee – a valid concern considering the field in Canton has been known for having issues in the past.

After leaving the game, Becton would return to play four more snaps on special teams as part of the field goal protection unit. However, Becton did not play any more offensive snaps despite Zach Wilson and the starting offense remaining on the field for one more drive following Becton’s exit.

Becton’s durability remains a concern going forward. But for the first time in ages, the Jets have some actual game film of Becton to analyze.

I compiled footage of all seven offensive snaps Becton played in Canton.

It’s a minuscule sample size – with Aaron Rodgers under center, seven plays can be less than one full drive’s worth – but Becton was flawless in his return. As both a run blocker and pass blocker, Becton showed glimpses of the eye-popping talent that made him the 11th overall pick.

  • Play 1: Becton creates good lateral movement on the double team, knocking the DT inside to open up the C gap.
  • Play 2: Becton uses great hand placement to absorb the DE’s bull rush; Becton then anchors down and keeps the pocket clean.
  • Play 3: Becton initially gets beaten to the outside by a double-swipe move. But Becton uses his elite length to recover and push the rusher seven yards past the QB.
  • Play 4: Becton kicks out on the front side of a run play and easily clears the edge defender out of the lane.
  • Play 5: Becton counters the double-swipe attempt this time. The DE transitions to a bull rush, and Becton absorbs it, keeping the pocket clean to set up Zach Wilson’s 57-yard bomb.
  • Play 6: Becton blocks down on the DT and creates a ton of lateral movement, ultimately knocking him to the ground as he trips through traffic.
  • Play 7: On the front side of an outside zone run, Becton crosses the face of the DE, flips his hips, and pins the DE inside.

It would be unwise to read too much into a seven-snap sample against backups. Still, it’s nice to see that Becton did exactly what you would expect him to do in this situation: dominate.

Whether Becton can stay healthy enough to survive the rigors of an NFL season remains to be seen. At the very least, though, there are finally some positive on-field developments to discuss regarding Becton.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at] - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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Mike Palazzo
Mike Palazzo
1 month ago

The Jets need insurance at the LT position. Becton feeling pain in his knee after 7 snaps is not a good sign. This situation can get ugly real fast and the time to trade for a LT who can protect Rodgers all season is running out. JD needs to address this ASAP. Rodgers window with the Jets won’t last forever.

1 month ago

Collinsworth did say he played well, and say what you want about Collinsworth, I have always felt he was one of the best analysts of OL play. It is a very small sample, and we knew there had to be some “getting back to form” with Becton. There’s still over a month until the opener, let’s hope his “pain” continues to improve. I have always thought Becton (healthy) at LT is their best option with Brown on the bench as insurance.

The issue is they can’t trust Becton. Could he play well enough they can flip him for a LT?

1 month ago

After getting re-acquainted with Becton’s tremendous potential in the run game, I have to say that if the decision at LT comes down to better pass protection with Brown or better run blocking with Becton, I’d maybe go with the latter, providing Becton is at least a solid pass blocker. I think the run game is going to be really crucial for the Jets this year. I know everyone’s is delirious about having Rodgers at QB, but last year, I thought he really looked like he was fading. He just didn’t look very strong in the pocket. Maybe that was partly because of an injured thumb, and maybe he will be rejuvenated this year, but still, he is at the very end of his career. A devastating run game like the Jets could have with Becton at LT might be the best way to protect Rodgers and extend his career.

1 month ago
Reply to  DFargas

…if Carl Lawson’s comments about not even sniffing AR in practice due to his quick release is true, then you might be right to favor the road graders. However, keeping AR healthy is the highest priority for this season and any hope of success