The Jets will put helmets on this week and then progress to fully padded practices next week. There is not much debate about who the top attraction will be for the Jets players to see in action.
Everyone from the coaches to the players is eager to see rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton on the field. He has turned heads already around the Jets because of his massive size. At 6-foot-7 and 370 pounds, Becton is a large man among a group of large men.
“We’re excited to get him on the field, get him going against our defensive guys,” Jets coach Adam Gase said last week. “There’s going to be a learning curve there because once he starts seeing how these guys will do their stunts and the way that the front changes and the calls. With him playing tackle, there are less moving parts than there would be if he was playing guard or center as a rookie. A high percentage of the time he’s blocking the guy that’s in front of him. I can’t wait to see how training camp goes. I know going against Jordan [Jenkins] is going to be a great thing for him because you’re going against a veteran guy that really is going to see what he’s all about. That’s going to be very good for us and it will be great for him.”
The Jets drafted Becton with the No. 11 overall pick out of Louisville, hoping he could protect Sam Darnold’s blindside for the next decade. He is going to get a crash course in life in the NFL during this abbreviated training camp, so the Jets know to expect growing pains. Still, there is excitement over the potential of their mountain of a rookie.
Mekhi BectonGetty Images
“I call that rookie the Great Wall of Green,” guard Alex Lewis said. “He’s massive — 6-8, 360 — and he looks great. I’m excited to see what he can do on the field when we put pads on. I know he’s coming in and he’s quiet, as a rookie should be, but he’s a sponge, he’s soaking up everything we’re telling him. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.”
Becton is the cornerstone of the Jets’ rebuilt offensive line. While the others are all on short-term deals, the Jets hope Becton can buck their trend of recent first-round picks and have staying power with the Jets. The last time the team drafted an offensive lineman in the first round was 2006 when it selected both tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold. Those two were the foundation of the offensive line for a decade. The Jets can only hope for a similar run by Becton.
Even though Becton is huge, the Jets have been impressed with the shape he reported in. Photos of him posted on the Jets website make him look lean — if that is possible at his size.
“I want to say lean, but the guy is a big man,” Gase said. “He did a great job of sticking with the program that he was doing in the offseason all through the summer. At the end of the day, you’re looking at a 370-pound man. He is one of the biggest players I’ve ever been around. The way that he’s built, he’s always going to look big. He is lean but he’s a big man.”
Lewis is going to be playing next to Becton on the left side of the line. The veteran said he will do his best to help Becton develop.
“As a rookie, the game’s very fast,” Lewis said. “Everybody goes through that adjustment, the speed of the game, the speed of players. My job, I don’t want to carry an extra burden, I just want to help him along when it comes to the mental aspect. You don’t want him thinking too much and playing slow. If I could be out there dialing in all the calls so it’s not a whole lot of thinking and he can just play football, that’s what I’m going to do.”