As the Jets get closer to training camp, I am examining the roster and giving you my top 25 players. Each weekday, we will reveal another person on the list, leading right into camp. I am not including rookies on this list because I do not feel it is possible to fully evaluate them before they play a game.
No. 4: Mekhi Becton
Last year’s ranking: Unranked (rookie)
Age on Opening Day: 22
How acquired: Selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft
Years left on contract: 3 (plus a team option for a fourth)
2021 Salary Cap figure: $4.2 million
Looking back at 2020
Becton lived up to, and possibly exceeded, expectations during his rookie season … when he was on the field.
The Jets selected Becton No. 11 overall out of Louisville. The 6-foot-7, 360-plus pounder makes quite an impression when he walks onto the field. He showed a nasty streak and a finishing ability that you can’t teach.
Durability was the biggest issue for Becton. He played in 14 games and made 13 starts, but he exited four of those games early. A shoulder injury caused him to miss two games and leave another two early. Then he exited against the Patriots on Monday night when he was having trouble breathing and against the Patriots again in Week 17 with an ankle injury. He wound up playing just 70 percent of the snaps.
When Becton was on the field, he was everything the Jets hoped he’d be when they drafted him. He was dominant at times as a rookie. Becton manhandled players and provided plenty of blocks that were highlight-quality. He showed some inconsistency, but that is to be expected for a rookie.
PFF graded Becton 31st out of 79 tackles. He was 23rd in run blocking and 30th in pass blocking.
Becton was credited with allowing seven sacks and 23 pressures. He was called for seven penalties.
Outlook for 2021
There is a weighty issue for Becton and the Jets. One of the things that makes Becton special is his size, but just how big should he be? The Jets listed him at 363 pounds, but sources say he was well north of that last season. This spring, Becton had a foot injury that kept him out of all but one OTA and all of minicamp. A foot injury at his size is troubling. Will it linger? The Jets are going to have to come up with a plan for Becton to keep his weight at a good number.
Keeping Becton on the field is really the only issue for the second-year player. He should only get better with another year to learn, and his unique movement skills are a good fit for the zone-blocking scheme the Jets will employ.
Becton’s potential seems limitless. He could be an All-Pro player if he builds on what he showed as a rookie. But he’s going to have to stay on the field to reach that potential.