The New York Jets are almost set to enter training camp and there’s one big question on everyone’s mind — literally.
Offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, nicknamed “the Big Ticket,” has yet to play in a game or practice since his season-ending Week 1 injury in 2021. There were also rumors from reporters that the former first-round pick showed up to minicamp a shade under 400 pounds.
Many believe Becton’s weight has contributed to durability issues throughout his career and nobody knows for sure what type of campaign he’ll have in year three. It could be All-Pro caliber, average, or completely disastrous and the Jets must leave camp with a strong insurance policy behind him.
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Tall Task for a Rookie
According to beat reporter Connor Hughes of The Athletic, rookie fourth-rounder Max Mitchell is the expected second line of defense if Becton — or George Fant — misses time. He wrote:
If Fant or Becton regresses or goes down, the next man up is likely Mitchell, a 2022 fourth-round pick. The Louisiana product is a favorite of the coaching staff. They love his versatility, work ethic and personality. He’s a bit of a developmental project, though. Perhaps the Jets add a veteran before training camp report day (July 26). As it stands, Mitchell is the insurance policy — and a very important one.
There was a slight hedge there from Hughes, noting that general manager Joe Douglas could still choose to sign a more experienced backup but that front has remained quiet since Riley Reiff visited Florham Park. Let’s say an injury occurs before Week 1, or even a setback in Becton’s case, then you might see those rumors spark up again.
The reason for that could be the potential of a starting gig and the financials that come with it. At this moment, the Jets don’t have a first-team role to offer but in a scenario where they do, someone like Reiff or Duane Brown could regain interest.
Until then, it’s Mitchell’s show and it should come as no surprise that this staff drafted him for a reason.
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Training Camp Should Provide Answers
The “versatility, work ethic and personality” — as Hughes puts it. That’s been the scouting report on the 6-foot-6 blocker his entire career.
NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein described Mitchell as a prospect “lauded by coaches and scouts for his toughness, consistency and leadership.” Does that sound like a Douglas-Robert Saleh selection or what?
He continued: “Mitchell has the athletic traits and hand quickness to make a living as a left or right tackle. He works with independent hands for improved early control of the pass rep. His punch is sudden and comes at rushers with intent. However, he can be overly responsive to movement. He needs to calm his feet and minimize forward lean to prevent rush leakage during the mirror phase. Technique and initial quickness allow him to make most blocks on the move, but he’ll need to prove he can roll downhill and generate movement in hat-on-hat battles. His demeanor, understanding of technique and athletic traits raise the floor and improve his ceiling.”
It will be interesting to see how the rookie holds up in camp. The Jets did very little work in the trenches this spring, outside of drills and learning the playbook.
You can’t tell a lot about an offensive lineman until the pads come on, however, and Mitchell has a lot to prove if he’s meant to be the major insurance policy at offensive tackle. Fans already know what Conor McDermott and Chuma Edoga bring to the table, and it’s not a very comforting thought.