FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP)Mekhi Becton flings 300-pound defenders to the ground as if they’re merely rag dolls.
The massive New York Jets rookie left tackle loves serving up pancake blocks. And he’s stacking ’em in bunches.
”It feels great,” a smiling Becton said when asked how it feels to send a grown man sprawling. ”I did my job on that play. It’s on to the next play. I try to do that every play. It feels real good to have a man on the ground every play. That’s my mindset.”
This is exactly what the Jets envisioned when they drafted the 6-foot-7, 363-pound behemoth out of Louisville. It’s a small sample size, but Becton fared well in the opener against Jerry Hughes and Buffalo and then again while facing San Francisco’s Nick Bosa – before he was injured – last Sunday.
In a season that has garnered very few bright spots for the Jets so far, Becton has been one giant positive. He has played just two NFL games, but already developed a huge reputation.
”I really think a lot of it has to do with his preparation coming into the season, not only physically, but he must have studied a lot,” coach Adam Gase said. ”Since he’s been here, since we started that first time we went out there in a phase 2 walkthrough, he’s been all over it. He was executing things that I was really surprised about because sometimes it takes, `OK, oh, that’s what I should do, I should slide with this guy,’ or, `I need to work with this dude.’
”I mean, he got it pretty quick.”
Becton said he watched film before and after meetings throughout the offseason, making that a priority after speaking with offensive line coach Frank Pollack.
”I knew I had to come here and perform,” he said. ”I needed to come here and be ready. Coach Pollack told me that from the jump, that he needed me to hit the ground running. So I took that personally and I got into my playbook. ”
Becton’s nickname is ”Big Ticket” – he wears a $175,000 diamond-filled, ticket-shaped pendant that includes the moniker and ”Admit One.” Well, it has been more like Admit None.
Becton’s pancakes have made the rounds on social media the last few weeks, with the offensive tackle making defenders look helpless and silly at times. He has been doing the offensive lineman equivalent of NBA players ”posterizing” opponents with rim-rocking dunks.
He talks no trash, though, to celebrate his fallen prey. Becton just moves on – and tries to do it again.
”They’ll just be like, `Dang, bro.’ And that’s it,” Becton said when asked if opponents say anything after they get back up. ”I just laugh and then go to the next play.”
The analytics site Pro Football Focus has Becton ranked as the highest-rated rookie after two weeks. But it’s not all just numbers and hype. Becton is producing, and many see something special.
Former offensive lineman Brian Baldinger, an analyst for NFL Network, focused on Becton in his ”Baldy’s Breakdowns” on Twitter this week and had high praise.
”.(at)BigTicket73 is the league’s best rookie and the (at)nyjets best football player,” Baldinger wrote in a post that included a nearly six-minute clip of highlights. ”This is my favorite player in the league.”
He’s not alone. ESPN analyst Damien Woody, also a former offensive lineman, took it a step further while quote-tweeting Baldinger.
”I would venture to say he’s one of the best OTs in the game already,” Woody wrote.
Baldinger, who called Becton ”Highway 77” after the Jets rookie’s uniform number, also pointed out how the left tackle appeared to be shouting after making one play – possibly suggesting that the offense should run behind him.
”Yeah, he always says that, every time,” Gase said with a laugh. ”Every time. He says it every time he comes off the field to me: `Just keep running to the left.”’
And Becton is giving Gase reason to listen.
”Yeah, I mean when you get 6, 7, 8, 10 yards on a carry and you’re running that way, sure,” Gase said. ”I think that he does a good job of creating movement off the ball. Him and (left guard) Alex (Lewis) are working well together.”
This is nothing new for Becton, whose physical size and on-field production made him a star at Louisville – and a prime draft target of many NFL teams looking for a massive foundation piece on offense.
One big pancake block at a time.
”That’s always been my mentality since growing up,” Becton said. ”I always want the ball run behind me. It always feels good when I’m blocking my responsibility and I just see the running back cut right up my butt for big gains. It always feels good seeing that.”
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