After securing Tom Brady as their quarterback and keeping the majority of their defensive free agents, the Buccaneers are now shifting focus to the NFL Draft. Their top priority, presumably, is to add some protection (and then some more weapons) for Brady.
What that means is that all eyes should be on the top four offensive tackles in the draft class. If one of them falls to No. 14, where Tampa Bay is making its first pick of the weekend, you can expect them to be a Buc. Among those top four tackles is Mekhi Becton, one of the stars of this year’s NFL Scouting Combine.
Mekhi Becton’s Collegiate Career
Becton played his high school football at Highland Springs in Virginia and was a part of back-to-back state championships before heading off to start his college career. And as the No. 1 offensive tackle in the state of Virginia, he certainly had his fair share of schools to pick from, as he was offered scholarships by well over 20 schools. In the end, he chose to attend the University of Louisville.
He figured heavily into the Cardinals’ plans as a freshman, starting all 10 games he appeared in during the 2017 season (with all of them coming at right tackle). He then started 13 games in 2018 (11 at left tackle, two at right) and 11 more as a junior in 2019, with all of them coming at left tackle. After his junior year, he was named the ACC’s best offensive lineman and made the All-ACC First Team before deciding to leave for the NFL Draft. Already considered as a first-round pick, Becton earned an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine, where he starred, particularly in the 40-yard dash.
Becton’s size is unreal, as he stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs in at 364 pounds while possessing a 7-foot wingspan. With that kind of frame, it’s no wonder he plays with such power in his game. His size and strength are obvious contributors to his upside, but so is his speed. Now, the 40-yard dash alone doesn’t determine the worth of any prospect, much less an offensive lineman. But Becton—at 6-foot-7, 364 pounds—ran his in 5.1 seconds.
WOW— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 28, 2020
6”7 364 lbs. Mekhi Becton just ran a 5.11 40-yard dash.pic.twitter.com/TOobb4Q9Y9
That’s just downright impressive. And that speed translates to his game, too, as he moves well laterally and plays with exceptional athleticism. As a result, he is a very strong run blocker. As for his pass blocking, he has been solid there as well, though it’s believed by many draft analysts, including NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, that there is some room for improvement and more consistency in his technique. In his draft profile on Becton, Zierlein says the big man’s “mass can finish what the technique doesn’t” and adds that he has the “potential to mash what’s in front with more work.”
And where there is even more to like about Becton is in his versatility. Not only has he played both tackle positions in the past, but it’s expected that he could slot in on either side at the professional level as well. Zierlein says as much in his profile, noting the prospect has the frame, feet, and athleticism to play either the left or right tackle position.
Some of the concerns with Becton are the same ones that come along with bigger-bodied prospects every year. His ability to maintain his weight and athleticism will be key in how he develops as a pro. But issues like that are obviously more manageable than other problems, so as long as Becton stays disciplined, there may not really be any warranted worry there at all.
But as far as technique is concerned, the Louisville product may have some more sharpening to do, which will come with NFL coaching. Zierlein notes that Becton “opens [his] outside half too early in pass sets” and “throws himself off-balance when loading up punch.” Jordan Reid of The Draft Network had this to say:
“There are instances of where he can destroy rushers quickly with his hands, but those times come and go way too often. Stretches of games involve him being hesitant with his hands and as a result, defenders are able to slide off of his hands or avoid them easily.”
But at the same time, Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network says Becton’s pass sets are smooth and admits that his hands can be wild but also effective. So, as expected, different analysts and evaluators have different thoughts about Becton’s strengths and weaknesses. But just about all of them agree that he is one of the top prospects in this year’s class, one that will very likely be a top-10 pick.
Why The Buccaneers Need Mekhi Becton
The Buccaneers’ need for a guy like Mekhi Becton is as obvious as it gets. They currently have a giant hole at right tackle and their top priority at the moment is adding protection for Tom Brady. They signed Joe Haeg for depth, but there is a glaring need to upgrade with the impending departure of longtime Buc Demar Dotson. So, they surely have to set their sights on the top four tackles in the class, with Becton being one of them. His frame, run-blocking ability, athleticism and versatility would make him an intriguing fit.
Now, Becton isn’t likely to be on the board when Tampa Bay picks at No. 14. But if he somehow is or if trading up is an option, the team would need to have a plan for how it would want to use him. It could be as simple as plugging him in at right tackle for 2020 to complete the offensive line. But if they see him as more of a left tackle, which was where he played the most in college, would they need to entertain the idea of moving Donovan Smith to the right side? Asking him to do so after five NFL seasons on the left side may be tough.
The likelier scenario, which would probably make the most sense, is to have Becton fill in on the right side for 2020 and potentially move him over to the left if the decision is made to move on from Smith before the 2021 season.
Should It Happen?
If Becton makes it to pick No. 14 for whatever reason, sure, it should happen. Without knowing how the front office rates each of the four tackles at the top of the class (Becton, Jedrick Wills, Andrew Thomas and Tristan Wirfs), it seems reasonable for the Bucs to pick whichever of the four falls to them... if any of them do. If it happens to be Becton, Tampa Bay would have a decision to make on which side he’d play on, but that’s not a bad problem to have.
It’s hard to see the Bucs even having the chance to make that decision, though, as Becton is a top-10 prospect. But maybe they deem him worth trading up for? They are going all in, after all, and being able to get such a mauler to protect Brady and be a force in the run game has to be an attractive proposition. Of course, if trading up is on the table and more than one of the tackles is available, it’ll come down to which one the team sees as the best fit.
But now we ask you, Bucs Nation. What’re your thoughts on potentially seeing Mekhi Becton in those beautiful new Bucs uniforms in 2020? Be sure to vote in the poll and feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments section down below.
How Do You Feel About Mekhi Becton For The Buccaneers In The 2020 NFL Draft?
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Draft Him No Matter What
Trade Back Candidate
I Wouldn’t Mind It
There Are Better Options