Jets tackle Mekhi Becton has two goals heading into his first season in the NFL.
“I want to start as a rookie and I want to make the playoffs,” Becton said during a Zoom call Monday evening. “Those would be my rookie goals.”
It’s a safe bet that at least one of those things will happen, and Becton could have a big impact on whether the second one does.
The Jets, who haven’t made the playoffs for nine consecutive years, drafted Becton with the 11th overall pick. They envision him eventually playing left tackle — maybe even as a rookie — and protecting Sam Darnold for many years.
Becton is 6-7 and weighs more than 360 pounds. At Louisville, he showed he had the size, strength and athleticism to dominate in both the passing game and running game. The Jets were at or near the bottom in both categories last year, and general manager Joe Douglas revamped the offensive line. Becton is a large piece of that.
The Jets expect more success on offense, which could lead to more wins and perhaps that elusive playoff berth in a season when one additional team in each conference will make the postseason. But the offensive line will need to mesh quickly during a time when everything is done virtually because of COVID-19.
The Jets are expected to have four new starters on the line — Becton, Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten and George Fant — along with Alex Lewis, who became a starter in Week 4 last year. Becton has been taking part in the virtual offseason program, but he said it's weird not getting on the field to walk through what they’re working on together in a classroom setting.
“We’ve been doing a lot of virtual meetings,” Becton said. “I’ve been seeing their faces, but I haven’t talked to any of the vets yet, like got to sit down and know them personally. We’ve just been doing meetings. The rookies have been doing side meetings on their own with the vets. I’ve just been studying, doing extra studying with the playbook. That’s what I’ve been getting from it.”
Becton said he hasn’t spoken to Darnold yet, but the two exchanged texts recently. Darnold said last week on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN 98.7 that he texted Becton the night he was drafted but hadn’t heard back from him. Darnold said he should have known better and waited to text Becton because he probably was hearing from all of his friends and family. But the quarterback and tackle have connected, and Becton said it’s just the beginning.
“Me and Sam actually texted each other the other day,” Becton said. “I’m going to try to find a way to form a relationship between us sooner or later.”
Becton said he also texted with Le’Veon Bell, who said to lock in his phone number.
“Pretty much the same as Sam Darnold,” Becton said. “I’m just going to try to get to know both those guys.”
Becton said not much has changed since he’s been drafted. He is in Dallas training with offensive line guru Duke Manyweather, who also worked with Jets fourth-round pick Cameron Clark of UNC Charlotte.
Becton is looking forward to meeting his teammates and getting on the grass with them. Some numbers have to be agreed upon in the meantime — his contract and uniform.
Becton said he asked Douglas if he can wear No. 77, but he hasn’t gotten an answer yet. His number at Louisville, 73, belonged to Jets legend Joe Klecko and is retired. Becton doesn’t want No. 70, his high school number.
“I wanted to try something new,” he said. “I feel like 77 is a different journey, a new journey.”
Becton hopes that journey starts on time in September, with him starting up front, and continues into January with a playoff berth. The Jets hope so, too.