With training camp on the horizon, NFL.com's Adam Schein recently wrote a column about nine rookies he's excited to watch take the field in their new uniforms and new Jets T Mekhi Becton made his list.
"My guy is gigantic at 6-7, 364 pounds, and that's a win for Sam Darnold, whose pass protection in his brief NFL career has fallen in the slim-to-none category," Schein wrote. "Becton should inspire hope for the third-year quarterback. Becton was Joe Douglas' first ever draft pick. And considering the unreal haul Douglas just landed for Jamal Adams – including two first-round draft picks – Becton being a rock will lead to belief in Douglas' team-building ability from the fan base and the locker room. I believe in Darnold, Douglas and Becton. I think Douglas hit big on the big tackle from Louisville."
Becton, who has been training with Duke Manyweather this offseason, joins an offensive line that underwent an offseason makeover. The No. 11 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft turned heads at the combine by running a 5.1-second 40-yard dash and while Becton's athleticism is rare, OL coach Frank Pollack has been impressed with his mind.
"We've been giving out quizzes as we go through our teaching progression from a concept standpoint and he's been on top of that," Pollack said. "He's detailed. He's putting in the time and it shows. When I ask him questions, if he's not quick to give me the answer, he knows right where he needs to go in his notes to find the answer, so that's encouraging. I've been impressed with him and I can't wait to work with him.
"He needs to learn and understand the speed is going to change. He's going to learn a variety of techniques whether that's footwork, hand use, etc. on top of a whole new system. There are a lot of ways to play football, so he's learning a whole new way in that regard. The expectation for him is like everybody else – own the system, be able to talk the language. Day 1 when we get on the grass and get in meetings, you should be able to know the assignments, know the calls, communicate to your linemate. Now it's just fine-tuning the fundamentals and technique and our cohesiveness as a unit."
Becton will compete for a starting job with the rest of the tackles that include George Fant, who started 24 games for the Seahawks from 2016-19, and Chuma Edoga, who started at both left and right tackle in 8 games last season as a rookie. When Pollack first watched Becton's Louisville tape, the first word that came to mind was nastiness.
"You can demand that kind of stuff, but at the end of the day, that really comes from the individual, what kind of nasty finisher they are," he said. "They really have to enjoy that aspect of it. That was the first thing that really jumped out. That's a good thing. Football at the end of the day never changes. No matter what they do, it's a physical, violent sport and it's not for everybody. If you're going to play the right way up front, you have to enjoy the physical nature of it."