Few players have had a more tumultuous last 12 months than NY Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton. Following a very impressive rookie season, Becton looked prime to emerge as one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL in his sophomore season.
Unfortunately, that sophomore NFL season couldn't have gone any worse for the young offensive lineman. From training camp struggles to a significant knee injury to rumors that the organization was not happy with his recovery period, everything went wrong for Becton.
And less than a full year later, it seemed as though the Jets were preparing to replace him in the 2022 NFL Draft given their interest in NC State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu.
Instead, the Jets opted to select Cincinnati cornerback Sauce Gardner. They didn't add an offensive lineman until Day 3 of the draft. In doing so, they re-affirmed their faith in Becton.
The NY Jets still believe in Mekhi Becton
The Jets' interest in Ekwonu was well documented this offseason. Rumors that the team could consider drafting him dated back prior to free agency, and even after signing Laken Tomlinson, those rumors didn't subside.
The organization loved Ekwonu, and their interest in him led many to believe that the Jets were close to moving on from Becton. Trade rumors emerged in the weeks leading up to the draft. Numerous reports indicated that many around the league believed that Becton would never play another game with the Jets.
There was so much smoke surrounding Becton's proposed departure from New York that it seemed destined the Jets would cut ties. But after drafting Gardner, it became clear that the Jets had other plans.
The Jets genuinely loved Ekwonu. The organization fell in love with his game and with him as a person in the pre-draft process. But drafting Ekwonu was always more about the NC State product as a prospect than it was Becton.
Yes, the Jets want to see a healthy and motivated Becton return in 2022. There are legitimate concerns about Becton's health moving forward. But the Jets are far from 'out' on their young stud tackle.
If anything, they're putting a ton of faith in him to stay healthy this season. They could have targeted an offensive tackle at any other point in the draft. Instead, they waited to take developmental swing tackle Max Mitchell in the fourth round.
Mitchell isn't a threat to start as a rookie. Conor McDermott and Chuma Edoga aren't pushing for starting jobs either. The Jets are putting all their eggs in the Becton basket, not just because they have to, but because they believe in him.
That belief is now evident following the conclusion of the draft.
The Jets do have concerns about Becton. They loved Ekwonu as a prospect so much so that they were willing to draft him if the board fell a certain way (if Gardner was drafted by Houston).
But at no point did that mean the Jets were done with Mekhi Becton. They hope he can still be a big part of their future. In 2022, he'll be given every chance to prove he deserves it.