NY Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton has been putting in the work, on and off the field, this offseason as he looks to rebound from consecutive injury-riddled seasons.
Becton is reportedly in the best shape of his life, down over 50 pounds from his weight last summer. Combine that with the extra hours he's been spending with Jets offensive line coach Keith Carter in the film room, and it's clear that Becton is as motivated as he's ever been.
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean he's guaranteed a starting job this season — far from it, in fact. The Athletic's Zack Rosenblatt reported this week that Becton is "far from a lock" to start at right tackle "if/when" he loses the left tackle competition to Duane Brown.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh heavily implied that Brown, if healthy, would be the team's Week 1 starting left tackle when speaking to reporters earlier this month.
Becton has been vocal in the past about his desire to play left tackle, but he might not have a choice. Even still, there's no guarantee he earns the right tackle job either.
Could NY Jets OT Mekhi Becton start the year on the bench?
The 11th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Becton showed flashes as a rookie that had many believing he could become one of the league's best offensive tackles before long.
Unfortunately, Becton has played just one game since his rookie season due to two separate knee injuries that have kept him sidelined for essentially all of the last two years.
Again, to Becton's credit, he's done everything right this offseason. He's gotten himself into phenomenal shape and has impressed coaches with his dedication on and off the gridiron. He's determined to make amends.
The Jets, however, might have different plans. Rosenblatt insists that both second-year tackle Max Mitchell and veteran Billy Turner are in the mix to start at right tackle. In his offensive line prediction, Rosenblatt even projected Turner as the Week 1 starting right tackle.
If Brown is healthy, it seems likely that he will earn the left tackle job. That means Becton will be forced to play a position that he partially blamed for his injury last season. Obviously, that's not an ideal situation for anyone.
Be it because of Becton's hesitancy, his injury history, or any number of reasons, Rosenblatt seems to believe that Becton will start the season on the Jets' bench.
Turner has ample starting experience and has worked very closely with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett over the years, from their time together in both Green Bay and Denver. He has the advantage in that regard.
Becton, of course, is the most talented of the bunch and arguably the most talented offensive lineman on the Jets' roster, but until he proves that he can stay healthy and regain his pre-injury form, the Jets aren't going to hand him anything.
Mekhi Becton will have every opportunity to earn a starting job this summer, but don't be stunned if he starts the year on the bench. It's a very real possibility.