FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The first thing everyone notices and talks about with Mekhi Becton is his size. The Jets’ 6-7, 370-pound rookie left tackle is used to it, but he hasn’t always liked it.
“I’ve been hearing it since I’ve been little,” Becton said after practice Tuesday. “It’s nothing new. I’m used to it. I embrace it now. I like hearing that I’m big. I embrace it.”
Becton said it took him a little while to embrace always being the biggest kid on the block or in the class or on the field. He said he was “insecure” when he was younger.
“It was always I’m getting talked about because I’m the biggest kid, I’m bigger than normal,” Becton said. “I was always getting talked about. It is what it is. At the time, for example if I was going in the pool, I would wear a tank top instead of no shirt on. That’s what I mean by insecure. That’s what I used to do. But now I fully embrace it now.”
That size helped Becton become a dominant force in college that he and the Jets hope translates to the NFL. Everyone at Jets camp is talking about Becton, the No. 11 pick out of Louisville, but it’s not just his size. It’s how athletic he is, how strong he is and how good he can become.
“It’s rare when you see a 370-pound guy move the way he does,” coach Adam Gase said. “When other players talk about his size, his length, his strength, that’s when you know it’s real. It’s not something that a coach or scout is talking about, height-weight-speed measurement type thing. He applies it to the field.
“It’s difficult for guys to figure out how to rush him in the passing game. And in the run game, it’s hard to move him back. You don’t see much penetration. That line flattens out pretty fast. The longer that he goes through this training camp, the better he’s going to get.”
Becton has had some rookie moments. Veteran outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins got past him pretty quickly during team drills with an inside move on Monday. But later that practice, Becton was pulling on a run play and pancaked linebacker Neville Hewitt a few yards downfield.
“It felt good,” Becton said. “It felt really good because I haven’t been able to do that in a while.”
Becton said he’s missed being able to actually use his size on the football field and knock people around. Teams weren’t permitted to practice against each other until late last week because of COVID-19. The Jets have had only one practice with pads, and that was Monday.
“I’ve been able to hit people,” he said. “I haven’t been able to hit a person in a while so it’s been great.”
Becton is a big part of the Jets’ revamped offensive line, and he will be protecting Sam Darnold’s blind side. Becton said the biggest thing he needs to work on is his blocking technique. He’s been leaning on left guard Alex Lewis and right tackle George Fant for advice and help.
The Jets have been impressed with Becton’s knowledge of the playbook. Without an actual offseason program, everything was virtual. But it’s clear to the Jets that Becton did plenty of studying before his first NFL training camp.
“He’s clearly hit the book all summer long,” offensive line coach Frank Pollack said. “He’s hit the ground running since he’s been here.”
But Pollack said Becton needs to work on his conditioning, and get his weight down a little. Becton said that’s his goal as well.
“This is definitely not the best shape I’ve been in,” he said. “I’m 370 now. I definitely want to be lower. I’m definitely working to get lower. I’m still trying to get into my best shape.”