As the NY Jets' season opener on Monday Night Football draws closer and closer, they really need to figure out who their starting five offensive linemen are and get them consistent reps as a unit.
On a roster built for a championship this season, this is the sole group that remains a question mark — and arguably the most vital group outside of quarterback in turning those title dreams into reality.
According to Robert Saleh and Aaron Rodgers, "the interior is intact," so when healthy, it looks like Laken Tomlinson, Conor McGovern, and Alijah Vera-Tucker will start at left guard, center, and right guard, respectively.
At the tackle positions, the incumbent left tackle Duane Brown has been sidelined this summer as he recovers from a shoulder injury. Second-year player Max Mitchell and journeyman Billy Turner haven't turned any heads in their battle for right tackle.
Enter Mekhi Becton, the 2020 first-round draft pick who had a very promising rookie season before missing the last few games with an injury. He has only played in one game over the last two seasons, so the Jets' are being understandably cautious in bringing him back to speed.
Mekhi Becton has earned an opportunity to start for the NY Jets
There seemed to be some malcontent with the coaching staff — Becton also seemed unwilling to change positions and wanted to be the foundational left tackle he was drafted to be back in 2020.
Fast forward a few months, and now Becton is willing to play anywhere that gets him on the field. In his limited action on the field in preseason, he's been outstanding.
My colleague Justin Fried brilliantly broke down his impact here, and there should be no argument that if all players are healthy, he still has the highest ceiling and the greatest skill set of any tackle on the roster, including Duane Brown.
Since Brown is the veteran and has only played left tackle in his 16 professional and four collegiate seasons, he is pretty much locked in for the Jets.
That means the right tackle is there for the taking, and ESPN's Rich Cimini reported that the Jets' offensive line coach Keith Carter pretty much stopped short of saying those words when heaping praise on him after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game.
It should also be noted that it's not a great sign that Brown has yet to practice a mere 20 days before Week 1. It's possible that two tackle jobs are up for grabs instead of one.
Regardless, Becton continues to impress on the field, which has always been his strength. His issue is staying on the field, and that same Cimini article includes quotes from his agent that detail how his rehab is going exactly to the plan of his doctor.
The final step of the doctor's plan is Becton being 100% for Week 1, so it looks like he's on the perfect track. When it comes to starting, it looks like he has an inside track there as well.
It certainly doesn't hurt that the team's star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, seems to have a soft spot for him — it should come as no shock that Rodgers' start coincides with Becton's first start at right tackle this weekend.
Rejoice — this is only good news for the Jets, as Becton is a very talented player, and he's worked extremely hard to improve his durability. It seems as if his efforts are paying off, which means the Jets could wind up with a very formidable unit to keep Rodgers upright all season.