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NFL Draft: Why Jets envision first-round pick Mekhi Becton coming up big

Mekhi Becton speaks during a press conference at

Mekhi Becton speaks during a press conference at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 26, 2020. Credit: AP/Michael Conroy

The video of Mekhi Becton standing behind a truck, gripping the bar on the back of the pickup and driving the vehicle forward, went viral weeks before the draft. This drive-blocking drill Becton performed while working with noted offensive line trainer Duke Manyweather should make Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell very happy.

Weeks earlier, the 6-7, 363-pound Becton put another feat on video that was nearly as impressive. It was at the NFL Combine, and the mountain of a young man from Louisville ran the 40-yard dash in 5.1 seconds. That also garnered plenty of attention. Jets general manager Joe Douglas called it “eye-opening.”

The Jets can’t wait to see what else Becton can do. That combination of size, power and athleticism is why the Jets chose him with the No. 11 pick in the NFL Draft on Thursday night. They envision him protecting Darnold for many years, whether at left or right tackle, and opening holes for Bell.

“He’s a big, powerful man,” assistant GM Rex Hogan said. “He’s a big, powerful man in the run game, and with his size and length, it’s going to be tough to get around him in the pass protection.”

The Jets went into Day 2 of the draft on Friday with one pick in the second round (No. 48) and two in the third (68 and 79). Their main areas of need are wide receiver, cornerback and edge rusher.

In his first offseason as an NFL GM, Douglas made it his mission to make sure the Jets’ offensive line was totally revamped. Mission accomplished.

The Jets ranked 31st in rushing and allowed the fourth-most sacks last year. Douglas signed George Fant, Alex Lewis, Connor McGovern and Rockville Centre product Greg Van Roten in free agency and drafted Becton, who could turn out to be the Jets’ biggest addition — literally and literally.

Becton is out to prove he’s the best tackle in this draft class, which included Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills Jr. and Tristan Wirfs.

“I’m a dominant, physical offensive lineman that likes to finish the guy in front of him on every play,” he said.

He comes with question marks, particularly about his weight and after having a drug test flagged at the Combine. But the day before the draft, Douglas spoke about it with Becton, who said he made a “young” mistake and that it won’t happen again.

Becton admitted that at first, he was concerned that the drug test would hurt his draft position. But he said that waned after talking to teams about it.

“I noticed the more I got honest with the team that asked about it, the more I felt better about it,” he said. “They were telling me just be honest about it, don’t try to lie. It was better for me to be honest about the whole situation.”

Douglas said the Jets did plenty of research on Becton and felt comfortable enough to take him. He also said he’s not worried about the tackle’s weight. Becton said he currently is at 363 and wants to play at 350 to 355.

“I’m still working to get that lower every day,” said Becton, who was back training with Manyweather on Friday.

Douglas and Becton are from the same area of Virginia. Douglas talked to Becton’s high school coach, Loren Johnson, of Highland Springs before the draft. He also spoke to Becton about playing in the same district and made him feel comfortable.

“It was definitely a great bond because when he said the street names, I knew what streets he was talking about,” Becton said. “It was a great bond knowing he’s from the same area I’m from. It was great talking to him. It was a great connection.”

The Jets hope this is the start of something great for them, too.

New York Sports