Mekhi Becton Says He Has Chip On His Shoulder — Hopefully Not Made Of Chocolate

When everything is right and there are no injuries to manage, no extra weight to carry, and no coach yelling obscenities in his ears, Mekhi Becton is a talent to behold.

“We’re all aware of the talent he possesses, the size, the athleticism, the physicality, all of it and he’s really smart,” New York Jets coach Robert Saleh told reporters Wednesday.

Becton has tape from his rookie year in 2020 that speaks to that grand ability.

There were times during that hopeful first season when Becton would deliver his initial punch against a 280-pound defensive lineman and it was as if an adult was pushing down a 10-year-old child. That’s what it looked like.

But it’s been a long time since Mehki Becton has looked like that. Because it’s been a long time since everything with the Jets’ offensive tackle and top pick in the ’20 draft has gone right.

That’s the problem with Becton.

An NFL season is about overcoming obstacles.

Injuries that are painful but aren’t deemed serious enough to keep anyone sidelined have to be overcome.

Coaches that don’t feel it’s their job to nurture a man the size of a tractor have to be overcome.

But facing some of those issues the past two years, that’s when Becton’s weaknesses began to show. That’s when the immaturity and inexperience came out.

Talk to coaches who have worked with him all the way from his college days at Louisville to his most recent days with the Jets and they have come to understand Becton — a smart, complex individual who truly wants to play well and please — doesn’t respond well to hard coaching.

“He’s the kind of guy you’ve got to talk to instead of yell at,” one coach said.

Understanding that, it makes more sense why Becton stayed away from the Jets the entire offseason until this week’s mandatory minicamp. He wasn’t ready to compete. He was out of shape.

So rather than come to the conditioning program and get yelled at, he stayed back in Texas and worked out on his own while being close to his family.

Becton also doesn’t respond so great to injuries. Wait, not right. Becton has not yet learned to respond great to injuries.

He just turned 23 years old. He’s started only 14 NFL games.

And he apparently hasn’t matured or ripened to the point where he can not only play with some pain but actually, embrace the pain and play well despite it — something many older and perhaps less talented NFL players do a lot.

Mekhi Becton
Mekhi Becton (77) of the New York Jets warms up prior to their game against the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium on December 27, 2020, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

And why are these things a problem?

Because Becton has been injured during both his rookie and second season and it hasn’t gone well. A knee injury in the regular-season opener last season that was expected to initially cost Becton no more than 8 weeks sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

“It was really just like a lot of adversity,” Becton said. “Just trying to become better from what you did the rookie year and then to be out all season, it’s a lot to handle. I’m definitely coming back with that chip on my shoulder.”

If that chip is made of chocolate, Becton better not mess with it too much because he’s got a weight issue.

Becton is listed at 363 pounds. He was well past that mark multiple times during his rookie season and was fined as a result. Last season, amid the inactivity of the knee injury, Becton got up over 400 pounds.

And true to form, he’s kind of sensitive about the issue.

He declined to share his weight with reporters on Wednesday. Saleh also kept the number under wraps so as to not embarrass his player. But any critical thinker knows there’s a weight problem being managed here.

It’s the primary reason Becton, who said his knee is now fully recovered, spent the team’s mandatory minicamp working on conditioning with trainers off to the side rather than actually competing in practice.

The good thing for the Becton and the Jets is the final chapter of this saga hasn’t been written.

Saleh is hopeful his behemoth offensive tackle can become a little less behemoth and factor in the competition for a starting job.

Becton, meanwhile, is planning to silence the typical New York noise that gets louder and angrier when a top draft pick fails to meet expectations.

“I’m going to make them eat their words,” Becton said.

If that happens, edge players in the AFC East will have a problem. They know a 360-pound Becton is so big and long that if they try to get around him, they’ll be 14 yards deep on their pass rushes, and if they try to go through him, they’ll be swallowed up.

“He can be,” Saleh said, “transcendent.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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