This season, and even the preseason, provides offensive tackle Mekhi Becton a big opportunity to prove himself with the New York Jets. There have been concerns surrounding him and his future with the Jets all offseason due to weight and injury issues. Reports within the last couple of months suggested many believed he’d never put on a Jets jersey again.
With his lack of on-field activity in minicamp and OTAs, those concerns have only grown, and it may lose him his starting job at left tackle.
Becton’s career started promisingly in 2020 after the Jets drafted him to be their starting left tackle. He missed two games with a shoulder and chest injury and clearly was held back by some shoulder pain in others. For the most part, Becton still played up to his hype as the 11th overall pick in the draft—even with some signs he was still acclimating as a rookie—in the 14 games he played. Heading into his second year, Becton looked to further cement his spot as the Jets’ starting left tackle.
Instead, his 2021 season only left him further from that goal.
Problems started in the offseason last year, when Becton had to sit out from OTAs with a foot injury. Then he suffered a concussion in training camp that kept him out for a couple of weeks. The worst came when the regular season began. Becton suffered a knee injury in his first start in 2021 and eventually needed to get surgery. Rather than the four-to-eight-week recovery timeline expected with his injury, Becton ended up missing the remainder of the season.
Given the number of injuries and their severity, it’s easy to start questioning Becton’s durability. The lack thereof is not a good quality for a player in the trenches, especially in a position as important as left tackle.
Even more unfortunate for Becton is how well his replacement, George Fant, played in his absence. After three solid seasons with the Seahawks, Fant came to New York to be their starting right tackle in 2020. Becton’s injury forced the Jets to kick him to the left side in 2021, where in 15 starts had just one sack attributed to him and was called for just four penalties. Considering opponents sacked quarterback Zach Wilson 44 times last season, Fant being responsible for just one was impressive.
That leads us back to Becton’s current situation.
The Jets didn’t draft one of the premium offensive tackles with the fourth or 10th overall picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. They didn’t draft any offensive tackle until Max Mitchell on Day 3. So New York clearly fully believes in what they already have to fill both tackle spots between Fant and Becton. It’s just that the answer on who plays on which side remains up in the air.
Becton has the chance to prove himself worthy of filling that left tackle spot once again this offseason, but there are still many questions to answer. Reports that came out about his weight surpassing 400 pounds during his surgery recovery raised concerns about how he’d get back into playing shape. He did join the Jets’ workouts for the first time this offseason at minicamp after missing OTAs to attend to his newborn, but there are still valid concerns there.
He clearly had slimmed down from his reported peak weight post-surgery, but there’s still some way to go before he’s in playing shape. What’s more, Becton wasn’t yet ready to practice with the rest of his teammates. He’s still rehabbing that knee and stayed with the trainers throughout the practices rather than participating in team stretches and activities.
Once Becton is finally ready to go with a recovered knee, he will need to do all he can to get in shape for training camp. Barring yet another injury, the job is his to lose. If he’s not ready to get to work soon, the Jets would be more than fine letting Fant take over as the starting left tackle. What Becton’s future with the Jets will look like will become much clearer as the offseason progresses, and it’s up to him to put all of the questions surrounding him to rest.