The Jets have selected offensive tackle Mekhi Becton of Louisville with their first pick, No. 11 overall, of the 2020 NFL Draft tonight.
The pick was the first made by Joe Douglas as the Jets' general manager and an NFL GM since taking over the Green & White's GM office last June and the first made virtually by Douglas and his player personnel team due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And it quickly addressed one of Douglas' stated goals for QB Sam Darnold, to "do everything in my power to take care of Sam, with protection and playmakers."
And Douglas & Co. did it by drafting the top player on the Jets' board when they went on the clock at 11.
"It was surreal when I got the call," Becton told Jets reporters shortly after the selection. "I was pretty upset because I was expecting to go earlier. ... It was great, a great moment."
Becton, at 6'7" and 364 pounds, is one of the biggest protectors available in this year's draft. He played in 35 games with 33 starts in his three seasons with the Cardinals, with the last 21 starts coming at LT. He received All-ACC first-team recognition after last season.
And at the NFL Combine he put his incredible size/speed combination on display by turning in a 5.10 time in the 40-yard dash — unofficially the fastest Combine 40 time by an athlete weighing in at 350-plus pounds since 1987. Additionally, Becton's hand size is a massive 10¾" and his arms measure 35⅝".
"I can't tell you how excited we are to add him to our team," Douglas said. "Obviously the first thing that jumps out about Mekhi when you see him play is the size and the ease of his ability to move, his footwork, and then his heavy hands, and how he can move people off the ball."
Added assistant GM Rex Hogan, "He moves people like furniture. He's a big, powerful man."
And head coach Adam Gase added a few more adjectives to the Becton/Jets file.
"He brings an edge to us, he brings nasty to our offensive line room," Gase said. "Anytime you can add a guy like that, you're fired up as a coaching staff."
There was one red flag reported recently on Becton, due to a flagged drug test from the Combine. Becton said, "I made a mistake, a young mistake, and it won't happen again." And Douglas said the Jets had time "to take a deep dive on exactly why that happened" and that he had a one-on-one with Becton on Wednesday that answered any concerns the team had.
Becton's 11th draft slot is the highest any player has been drafted by the Jets out of Louisville, and he's the sixth Cardinal selected by the Green & White all-time. The only other first-rounder was S Calvin Pryor, taken 18th in 2015, while fourth-rounders S Kerry Rhodes in 2005 and RB Bilal Powell in '11 are the only Jets draftees out of UL to log at least 80 games with the team.
The Virginia native is also the first tackle taken by the Jets in Round 1 since they plucked D'Brickashaw Ferguson out of the University of Virginia with the fourth pick of the 2006 draft. "Brick" started all 160 regular-season games the Jets played from 2006-15 and played in three Pro Bowls in his 10 seasons as the Green & White quarterbacks' blindside protector.
Becton was the third tackle taken, following Andrew Thomas of Georgia going to the Giants at 4 and Jedrick Wills of Alabama heading for Cleveland at 10 as the Jets went on the clock. He was asked if he thinks he was the best tackle available in this draft and he didn't disagree.
"I feel like I am," he said. "Only time will tell. I've got to go to work. I'm ready to go to work."