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Mekhi Becton has a case to be the top offensive tackle after Combine

Mekhi Becton has a case to be the top offensive tackle after Combine
LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 05: Mekhi Becton #73 of the Louisville Cardinals reacts in the second half of the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Cardinal Stadium on October 5, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

For all practical purposes, a “big four” of offensive tackles has already been established at the top of the 2020 NFL Draft big board. There’s Jedrick Wills of Alabama, Tristan Wirfs of Iowa, Andrew Thomas of Georgia, and Mekhi Becton of Louisville. Mekhi Becton is the most recent addition to this quadrumvirate, and yet, he has a case to be the top offensive tackle after an eye-opening NFL Combine appearance.

Becton wasn’t the only top-end offensive tackle to crush the NFL Combine; Wirfs led the way in numerous categories with a 4.85 40-yard dash, a 36.5-inch vertical, and a broad jump over ten feet. Wills was also more than respectable, with a 5.05 40-yard dash and a 34.5-inch vertical. But Becton’s combination of sheer size and mobility was accentuated at the NFL Combine, and teams looking for the lineman with the most enticing physical foundation might turn to Becton on draft day.

Becton measured in as the biggest player at the 2020 NFL Combine, with a massive 6-foot-7, 364-pound frame, and a wingspan of almost seven feet. The 364-pound number is shocking on its own, but even more unbelievable once you learn that Becton only has 17 percent body fat. Becton is a very large, shredded human being, and he has the mobility to match the mass.

At the NFL Combine, Becton only partook in the 40-yard dash, a drill that isn’t entirely indicative of success on the offensive line at the NFL level. Some drills are more important for linemen, but the 40-yard dash does give a good idea of a lineman’s ability to gear up in space and maintain momentum in the open field. The 10-yard split function of the 40-yard dash also gives scouts an idea of a prospect’s explosiveness and acceleration.

In the 40-yard dash, Becton logged an official time of 5.10 seconds, and a 10-yard split of 1.77 seconds. For a player of his size, those numbers are otherworldly, and they quantify the unique, specific athletic profile that Becton brings to the table. Becton also amassed an impressive 23 bench reps with his 36-inch arms, reinforcing the brute strength and natural leverage that’s apparent on his tape as well.

Becton’s NFL Combine performance wasn’t as all-encompassing as other offensive tackle prospects, but his athletic traits stand out as unavoidably as he does. His player profile is a rarity at tackle, and for that reason alone, Becton is getting some attention as the potential top offensive tackle in the 2020 NFL Draft. The publicity of the NFL Combine can magnify the extraordinary, but does Becton deserve to be in that discussion?

Not all scouts are newcomers to the “Mekhi Becton: Top offensive tackle” conversation. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah had the Louisville product as his fifth overall prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft before the NFL Combine, and other experts also laud the former Cardinal for his physical upside. Some are skeptical of the translatability of Becton’s size to the next level, but on tape, those concerns dwindle.

Becton’s 6-foot-7, 364-pound profile naturally unearths concerns that he may be too lumbering as a mover, and not able to close space quickly enough to keep pace with the NFL’s top-tier athletes on the edge. But Becton, as the mounting evidence suggests, is cut from a different cloth. He glides on his feet both laterally and vertically and has the fluidity in his movement to mirror edge rushers, as well as the length to establish an anchor and neutralize rushers with unforgiving absolution.

Given Becton’s uncommon physical makeup, many have been quick to scrounge for comparisons, to potentially project what kind of career Becton can have in the NFL. But finding a comparison for a one-of-a-kind prospect can be difficult, and it’s that uncharted aspect that tethers a cloud of mystery to Becton’s bid to be the top offensive tackle.

Teams have taken risks on rare prospects like Becton before, and teams have failed to glean peak potential from those prospects. Is Becton’s trait profile alone enough to vault him over the relentlessly sturdy Jedrick Wills, or the more orthodox athlete in Tristan Wirfs, or the steady, steely Andrew Thomas?

That’s up for NFL general managers to decide, and in doing so, they must take care, and dare to separate Becton from the dangerous stereotypes that mountainous prospects have come to inherit. Becton has the size, and on film, his mobility and smoothness are ever apparent. Other prospects may best him with polish and instinct, but with the right teacher, Becton can be a genuinely dominant offensive tackle at the NFL level.

Of course, a team can only dream so far this early into the game. For now, as enticing as Becton’s traits might be, he’s just a projection. They all are. But Becton himself is sure of his abilities. He said it himself at the NFL Combine:

“I feel like I’m the best offensive tackle in this draft. You won’t go wrong picking me. Simple as that.”

Can it be as simple as that? In a sport where endless roads to infinite degrees of success and failure await prospects? In a sport where overthinking and under-thinking evaluations are equally dangerous fallacies?

Perhaps. Scouting, after all, is projecting what prospects can be. And Mekhi Becton can legitimately be the top offensive tackle.

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