The New York Jets’ desperate search for a franchise left tackle has been long and arduous since D’Brickashaw Ferguson surprisingly hung up his cleats.
Back in 2016, the 32-year old stalwart was already pondering retirement, and when the green and white approached him about taking a pay cut that was the final nail in the coffin.
The former Virginia star didn’t want to engage in a pissing contest with the front office so he decided to retire after 10 seasons with the Jets.
Suddenly the warm tingly feeling Gang Green fans had for much of the 21st century vanished. This past season, for the first time in years, it finally returned with the arrival of Mekhi Becton.
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Mekhi Becton’s Potential Is Absolutely Unreal
Apparently fans weren’t the only ones feeling that intense sensation when watching the former Louisville product on the gridiron last season.
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN is doing a series where he surveys over 50 league executives, scouts, coaches, and other players to find out who is the best of the best at each position in the NFL.
On Saturday morning he revealed his top-10 list for the best offensive tackles in football. Despite only playing one season, Becton is already considered among the elite of the elite.
“He’s generational in terms of athleticism and size,” an NFC exec said of the second-year tackle. “Very rare.”
One league insider ranked Becton as the second-best offensive tackle in all of football right now. While another executive ranked him No. 12 among all tackles. Ultimately the rankings were all averaged out and Becton landed No. 6 overall on the list.
Fowler notes at the beginning of this piece that, “the objective is to identify the best players right now for 2021. This is not a five-year projection or an achievement award. Who’s the best today? Pretty simple.”
While some may disagree with the ranking, especially this early in his career, the point remains. It’s all about what Becton has shown in glimpses: imposing physical size, phenomenal agile feet, and as one AFC scout noted “hall of fame traits.”
Make no mistake, the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. Although if you asked someone about the other key positions in the league it wouldn’t be long until you heard the term blindside protector.
If passers are important, the guys that are responsible for making sure they stay upright are just as valuable.
Jets Fans Took Brick for Granted
Ferguson was unspectacular and was rarely recognized as one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL. During his 10-year career, the former Cavaliers stud received only three Pro Bowl nominations.
He wasn’t a superstar, but he was incredibly reliable:
- 167 consecutive starts (including the postseason)
- Played 10,707 of 10,708 snaps (only missing one because the Jets did a trick play with no offensive linemen on the field)
- Never missed a practice
- Didn’t appear on the injury report once
That reliability is something Jets fans took for granted. During a broadcast, if you’re talking about an offensive lineman, that’s normally a bad thing. That likely means the insert player is being handed the business by a talented pass rusher. We never heard anything about Brick.
Ferguson was a guy that punched in and punched out. He was a quiet and reserved man that just went about his business. A role model that let his play on the field do the talking as opposed to his mouth.
When Ferguson retired back in 2016, the Jets enjoyed a revolving door of disappointment as they searched for a replacement:
- Ben Ijalana
- Ryan Clady
- Kelvin Beachum
Finally, for the first time in over 14 years, Jets general manager Joe Douglas ended an embarrassing drought by selecting an offensive lineman in the first round. Not only did he select a member of the trenches, for the first time since Gang Green took Ferguson, but that was also his very first selection as the head honcho of the Jets.
Becton is arguably the most important piece to the puzzle for the green and white. When Douglas selected the former Louisville product No. 11 overall, he risked it to get the biscuit.
The drafting of Becton was described to me in this way by an NFL Insider: if he immediately ascends to the top of the NFL it wouldn’t surprise me. If we fast-forwarded three years and he was out of the league, it wouldn’t surprise me.
It seems early on that he’s on the proper trajectory to live up to all the hype. The key is staying healthy and from everything we’ve been told, Becton should be ready to go for Jets training camp at the end of July.