1. Mekhi Becton, OT, NY Jets
If you ask me, the entire Jets’ season rides on the health and play of the offensive line. It is no secret that head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas want to build their team through the offensive and defensive lines, and they have done that each of the last three seasons, adding talent to both position groups.
One of their most coveted additions was in the 2020 NFL Draft when they selected massive mauler Mekhi Becton from Louisville to solidify their left tackle position. In his rookie season, he flashed legitimate All-Pro talent and appeared to be a crucial part of the team’s success moving forward.
However, at the start of the 2021 season, Becton injured his MCL and was set to miss 4-8 weeks of game action. As Jets fans know, he then proceeded to miss the remainder of the year, dealing with constant setbacks in his recovery. With the 2021 season a failure, the Jets opted to hold him out the rest of the way.
Ahead of the 2022 campaign, one that had lots of promise for the Jets, things got off to a disastrous start. Becton, while competing for his job back, tore his ACL in training camp, sidelining him the entire season again.
After essentially missing the entire last two seasons of play, Becton appears to be back on track, losing tons of weight this offseason and saying all of the right things to the media. However, this is a make-or-break year for Becton and the Jets.
The Jets declined Becton’s fifth-year option, meaning he is a free agent after this year. On a personal level, Becton needs to win a starting job, stay healthy, and prove he is once again the dominant tackle that can play at a high level for the next decade.
The Jets also need a healthy Mekhi Becton, though. In an ideal world, Becton will dominate training camp and be made the starting left tackle in his natural position. Duane Brown, Max Mitchell, and rookie Carter Warren will then compete for the right tackle job, with the non-winners being serviceable and important backups.
In a more realistic world, Duane Brown will be the left tackle and Mekhi Becton the right tackle this season, with Becton as the long-term right tackle and Carter Warren taking over the left side next year.
Whatever the case may be, if the NY Jets make the playoffs this season and make a legitimate playoff run, it will be because of Becton’s improvement, health, and consistency on the line.
Dominating the run game and keeping edge rushers at arms' length, the Jets' offense can truly be one of the best with a healthy Becton and overall line.