It’s not every day that you see an offensive tackle at 6’7″ and 369 pounds be able to do some of the things that Mekhi Becton from Louisville can do. For starters, it’s also not every day that you see a high school recruit listed at 6’7″ and 345 pounds. According to 24/7 Sports, that’s exactly what Becton was listed as when he was coming out of Highland Springs High School in Highland Springs, Virginia.
Even though he was a two sport athlete in both basketball and football, it was clear that he was meant to be on the gridiron. Listed as a three-star recruit, he had over 20 college offers from schools like Michigan, Virginia and Oregon. Ultimately, he chose Louisville because the city felt like home. Since then, he’s put together 33 career starts over the last three seasons and has primarily been used as the left tackle for the Cardinals. However, he does have experience at right tackle.
It’s clear that he’s starting to get more comfortable on the left side. So much that, this year, he was awarded the 2019 Jacobs Blocking Trophy which is given to the best offensive lineman in the ACC. His film showcases the talented offensive tackle’s Hercules-like strength and massive frame that helps him move defenders off your television screen.
The most powerful hands in the draft
From my research, there isn’t a player in the 2020 NFL Draft that’s as big and powerful as Becton. By now, it’s well documented on Twitter and in the draft world of how powerful he truly is. No matter how many times a speed or power rusher try to match up against him, there’s a good chance they’re going to get tossed around quite a few times per game.
The grip strength is real. On the play above, Becton would be considered playing on the weak-side. Despite the play going away from him, he still has a job to do. That job is to make sure that the edge rusher across from him doesn’t leak in the backfield and disrupt the play. As the quarterback makes his play, you can still see Becton getting his inside hand on the chest plate of the defensive end. He immediately has control and you can tell that he starts driving the defender toward the ground. Fortunately for the defender, Becton allows him to live for another day and he lets go as he’s ready to celebrate the touchdown.
It’s hard to see on the broadcast footage but Becton (No. 73) has to take on a stand-up edge rusher. On his initial punch, he’s got a good base and surprisingly good pad level. His hands are placed inside and as the edge rusher tries to fight back inside, Becton takes him for a ride towards the first down marker. The leg drive and overall power behind him makes him a serious force on every single play.
This time, the Cardinals are going with a zone-run. Becton is seen reach blocking and as the edge defender tries to cross his face and fight pressure with pressure to the outside, it’s clear that Becton is having no part of that. He is in complete control and once again, strikes with his inside hand and attempts to throw the defender to the ground. It takes the defender off his path and it allows the running back to bend the run back inside for a positive gain. If teams haven’t already, they’re going to fall in love with these types of plays.
Pass blocking good but not great
Going into his film, I was expecting Becton to be worse at pass blocking than he actually was. He surprised me, especially with a player of his size. At Louisville, you don’t see a ton of vertical pass sets and in fact, Pro Football Focus has him graded out with only 73 true pass sets. They also have him charted with eight pressures on those pass sets. It’s clear he’ll need some improvement but with a smaller sample size on those pass sets compared to other offensive tackles, he’s good just not great.
Against Virginia, he faced a more athletic edge rusher in Charles Snowden (listed at 6’7″ and 235 pounds). On the play above, they matchup against each other and it’s a pretty solid rep from Becton. His feet match the speed from Snowden and despite some separation created by the edge rusher, Becton re-establishes control with his hands and ends up anchoring late in the process.
There’s a few things to pay attention to on the play above. For starters, you can see his set foot behind him so he’s clearly showing that he’s ready for pass protection. In the process, the foot speed looks good and he doesn’t mix his feet up at all. However, watch how starts setting up inside rather than outside. It looks as if he’s preparing for some type of inside rush from the edge rusher despite having help from the left guard. This opens the door to the outside and a more experienced edge rusher could potentially get around the monstrous offensive tackle. Fortunately, the quarterback shows good pocket awareness, steps up and then takes off with it for a first down.
Lastly, we’ll focus on this pass rep against Kentucky. It’s hard to tell from the broadcast footage but his initial punch that helps create separation and for him to re-set his hands back inside. On the initial punch, his right hand hits the outside of the left shoulder pad on the defender. At times, his punches can land either too high or on the outside of a defender. With time, he could become more consistent in that area.
Physical and aggressive will excite you every time
The headline speaks for itself. Every time you watch the physical and aggressive nature from Becton, it will get you excited. Whether he’s pass blocking or run blocking, the goal for Becton is clear: he’s putting you in the dirt. This past year, he registered over 60 total knockdowns.
The next two video clips are the same ones but from two different angles. The play above is the broadcast angle where Becton takes the defensive lineman for a ride. Everything about the rep shows exactly what type of blocker and player he has become. As you watch the left tackle, you’ll notice how he plays with low pad level and great leg drive through the entire rep. Once he strikes his hands onto the defenders chest plate, he has him dead to rights.
Like I said, the play above is the same play as the previous one. Only this time, it’s the replay version of the play and it gives you the angle from the end-zone. As the entire offensive line reach blocks, you can see where Becton takes a good angle but also is in complete control through the entire play. It’s not every day that you see an offensive lineman literally drive the opposition for five yards. Normally, it’s the saying “drive for five” but for Becton, it’s a lifestyle.
This time, we see some of the aggressive-nastiness in pass protection. On the play above, you can see the play start breaking down as the quarterback scrambles out of the pocket. Once Becton sees the quarterback moving downfield, he wants to ensure that nobody comes close to touching the quarterback. Rightfully so, he finishes his defender by putting him in the dirt.
Reach block and climbing to the second level
There’s no question that at the next level, Becton will have to get better when climbing to the second level. At times, he takes bad angles or doesn’t possess the patience needed to attack the second level. Through some of the blocks already shown, he does a good job as a reach blocker. If can get that defender in front of his face, there’s a pretty good chance he’s winning that rep.
Starting with the reach block, you can see clear dominance from Becton. The entire offensive line steps to their right and with such a massive player sealing off the backside, it actually creates an opening for the running back to bend to the weak-side. In the process, the H-back does a great job sealing off the linebacker. Altogether, this leads to a fairly big gain.
Moving onto his ability to climb to the second level, it’s certainly a work in progress. As you’ll see on the play above, Becton gets too eager and lets the linebacker get right around him. In the process, you can see how rushes through and gets too far upfield. This forces him to retract his steps and ultimately lose the rep as the running back has nowhere else to go.
If you’re looking for an offensive lineman to literally move defenders off your screen, then look no further. As you’ve seen, Becton has some serious strength behind his hands. He shows proper leg drive to take players downfield and drive them into the dirt. This type of ability to finish isn’t always taught and it’s not something that comes easy for an offensive lineman. It’s different for Becton.
After watching five games, Becton earned a first round grade on my board and even though I was hesitant due to his size, it’s clear he has pretty good control to handle his own against all types of pass rushers. Beyond just that, his footwork isn’t bad. It’s not great and he didn’t do a ton of vertical pass sets at Louisville but with his wingspan and grip strength, he’s going to control plenty of edge rushers.
When approaching the second level, he’ll have to become more consistent but overall. Becton is a player that could come in and start right away. There’s a chance he ends up being the first offensive tackle off the board but he looks more like the fourth or fifth best offensive tackle in the 2020 NFL Draft. Regardless of his ranking, he should be a first round pick by the time we get to April!