Joe Douglas Reveals Jets’ Expectations for Mekhi Becton in 2022

Mekhi Becton

Getty New York Jets offensive tackle Mekhi Becton exited the field on September 12, 2021, and has yet to return.

A day after New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh addressed the media at the annual NFL league meetings in Palm Beach, Florida, reporters caught up with general manager Joe Douglas.

The NYJ boss provided multiple comments that were of note, but one was centered around his original first-round selection, offensive tackle Mekhi Becton. The Athletic’s Connor Hughes broke the interesting development on Twitter.

He reported: “We just spoke to Joe Douglas. He said the #Jets are operating as if Mekhi Becton will be one of their two starting OTs. Stressed importance of pass rusher — sure sounds like DE at No. 4. Still open to a big trade if a player becomes available. Right now, none are.”

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Douglas Restores Organizational Faith in Becton

"Trying To Put The Best Plan Available" | Joe Douglas Press Conference | The New York Jets | NFLGeneral manager Joe Douglas speaks to the media during the annual league meetings in Palm Beach, Florida on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. Subscribe to the New York Jets YT Channel: For more Jets NFL Action: #NewYorkJets #Jets #NFL For more Jets action:

At an impromptu press conference in Palm Beach, Douglas gave Becton a strong vote of confidence — which is a different vibe from what the coaching staff has said this offseason.

The question came in from Hughes himself, asking if Douglas and Saleh “are operating as if Mekhi is going to be one of the two starting offensive tackles next year.” The GM responded very bluntly and boldly:

Yes, we are operating like Mekhi is going to be one of our two tackles, and that’s our expectation that he’s going to come back ready to roll. I know he’s fired up to get back on the field and compete, and also we have George [Fant]. We feel good about the tackle group.

Even if Douglas did sort of echo Hughes’ question in his answer, there was no hesitation from the general manager here. Barring some major smokescreen by the organization — which feels unlikely — it appears Becton is the guy at either left or right tackle, depending on the training camp competition with Fant.

As Hughes noted in his tweet, that makes edge rusher even more likely at No. 4 overall.

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Should the Jets Bring in Competition for Becton?

During a recent spot on the PFF “NFL Stock Exchange” podcast with Bleacher Report draft scout Connor Rogers, Hughes admitted that he’s “under the belief that [the Jets are] going to draft an offensive tackle at some point within the first three rounds, potentially within the first two.”

“The scholarship [is] over,” Hughes told Rogers. “There is no more handing him the position. This is no more, you’re guaranteed a starting job. This is Robert Saleh saying look, I’m not the one who drafted you. This is my roster, I’m the one that’s in charge of who starts, you gotta earn the starting job because we’ve got a guy in George Fant that can be our left tackle.”

This analysis was more consistent with Saleh’s rhetoric on the topic. Fans debated the head coach’s March 28 comments on Becton.

“I do know when he does come back, he’s going to be a ball of butcher knives,” praised Saleh. The fear came from a follow-up question that asked if Becton is expected to be healthy before OTAs.

“I’m not sure about that one yet,” replied Saleh, “but excited to get him back for OTAs.”

NFL news site uSTADIUM explained their concerns: “The guy who has missed more games than he’s played and is in month 7 of a 6-8 week injury and still no idea where he is progress wise.” Jets Twitter defended the big man, calling this update a nonissue.

This all circles back to whether or not the franchise should target offensive tackle depth in the draft, and if so, how early they should do it. Outside of stud prospect Ikem Ekwonu, Hughes told Rogers that an OT at No. 4 is probably off the table.

However, he added that he expects Douglas to draft one in the second or third round. That player could push Becton a bit and provide long-term security in the event of injury or Fant’s departure. A mid-round pick is not a clear threat against Becton’s job, so this middle ground feels like the probable solution.

The GM did acknowledge that Becton could switch to the right side but reiterated that he should be one of the starters. Douglas even gave a brief medical update for fans, stating: “So [Becton] came back for rechecks, he had a good meeting with our doctors so we’ll get him back here for OTAs, take another physical and see where he is when he gets back.”

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