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As had been widely anticipated since the end of last season, Joe Douglas opted to use his first draft pick as Jets general manager on an offensive tackle.
With Andrew Thomas and Jedrick Wills Jr. both off the board, Douglas opted to select Mekhi Becton from Louisville over Iowa's Tristan Wirfs with the 11th overall pick.
Becton is the offensive lineman from this draft who arguably has the highest uspside. However, it's generally accepted that there are aspects of his game that are raw, so he'll need to develop better technique before he can realize that potential.
Much of the focus and speculation around the possibility of selecting a tackle had been centered around the importance of protecting Sam Darnold, and the Jets are obviously hopeful Becton can develop into an elite blindside pass protector.
Some signs here are positive. Last year, Becton started every game at left tackle and only gave up one sack -- in his 11th and final start of the season.
He is an enormous 6'8" and 364 pounds with long arms that are an asset in warding off defenders, but despite being so big he has good feet and moves well laterally to stay in front of pass rushers. Those attributes, coupled with his size and strength, make him difficult to drive back on a bull rush, so he should be adept at preventing quick pressure. This is something Adam Gase has specifically cited as a key attribute he likes his offensive linemen to have.
There are some causes for concern here, though. Pro Football Focus has pointed out that Becton didn't have as many "true pass sets" as the other top tackle prospects and hasn't been particularly successful in those that he had.
What this means is that Louisville's offense had a lot of plays where the quarterback either threw the ball immediately or ran a play-action pass where Becton and other linemen were actually run-blocking rather than dropping back to repel a pass rusher. In addition, it's apparent from his film that he needs to work on his hand placement and technique.
The Jets presumably feel that Becton will be a good fit for Gase's offense, where the intention is for Darnold to get the ball out quickly. Bigger offensive tackles can be successful in such schemes, as Trent Brown has shown with his recent success in New England and Oakland.
Nevertheless, it's clear Becton may have some growing pains as a rookie and even if he's solid 90 percent of the time, he'll still be making a few mistakes every game, which could lead to him coming under fire from impatient fans and media.
Becton will also have a key role to play in the Jets' running game and this is where he has the potential to have a transformative effect on the offense. His Louisville film shows some dominating run blocks, which could bring a whole new attitude to the Jets' running game if he can reproduce that at the pro level.
Becton has over 50 pounds on his predecessor at left tackle, Kelvin Beachum, so he will hopefully be much more effective at setting the edge and in short yardage situations. He also showed that he has the athletic ability to get downfield by running his 40-yard dash at the combine in an impressive time of 5.1 seconds.
In 2019, Le'Veon Bell carried 30 times off left tackle or around the left end but only gained 84 yards, including fewer than two yards per carry on off-tackle runs. In his last full season with the Steelers, he gained 180 yards on 48 carries over the left side, averaging four yards per carry on off-tackle runs. This is a clear sign of the extra production that could be generated by an upgraded line.
Again, there are some improvements Becton can make to his technique as a run-blocker. He needs to get more consistent in terms of sustaining his blocks to maximize his effectiveness with the Jets.
We're assuming Becton will start at left tackle with the Jets, which ultimately seems inevitable.
However, he also played some right tackle at Louisville, so that could be an option if the Jets would prefer not to have a rookie protecting Darnold's blindside.
Ultimately, Becton seems like a boom-or-bust pick, but scouting offensive linemen has long been considered one of Douglas' specialty areas, especially since he used to play the position himself. The Jets will have had faith in him to make the right call and, if it turns out that he did, Gang Green has addressed a key area that has been underwhelming over the past few seasons.