He’s not only the new kid on the block, he’s the biggest kid on the block.
Mekhi Becton is making his presence felt.
Just ask any Jets defensive players who has been privy to the sight of the 6-foot-7, 363-pound tackle and first-round draft pick bearing down on them in practice the past few days.
Linebackers Neville Hewitt and Blake Cashman got a taste in Monday’s practice, which was the team’s first session of the summer in shoulder pads.
In an early 11-on-11 drill, the 6-2, 234-pound Hewitt was on the wrong end of a Becton downfield block on a running play and was flattened like one of those Bugs Bunny cartoon characters.
“Yeah, he got me,’’ Hewitt said later, smiling over a Zoom interview. “It was on a play where he hit the gap and he came off the ball pretty good. I was pretty impressed. He’s a pretty big fellow.’’
Asked if the preferred plan of action when a 6-7, 363-pound man-child is rumbling toward him is to “duck,’’ Hewitt said, “If you see him coming, you better do like him and go at him or he’s going to get you.’’
Blake Cashman, a 6-1, 237-pound linebacker coming off a 2019 shoulder injury, also incurred the Wrath of Mekhi on Monday.
“I had to take him one-on-one, and let’s just say that didn’t go so good for me,’’ Cashman said. “Today in practice, first day in pads, he made himself known out there and what he’s capable of doing. He’s a great player, somebody that’s going to play a long time in this league. He has so much more potential to grow.
“The first thing that’s stands out is his size.’’
That’s the early winner for understatement of training camp.
The “7’’ and “7’’ on Becton’s uniform look larger than the numbers on everyone else’s jersey. He outweighs the next heaviest player on the team, fellow tackle George Fant, by 41 pounds.
“He’s different, man,’’ said newcomer Frank Gore, who at 5-9 is nearly a foot shorter than Becton. “One of the biggest guys I’ve been around.’’
Becton, too, has been chatty, according to Gore, the free-agent running back in his 16th NFL season.
“The first day, he was talking to me out there,’’ Gore said. “He was telling me he’s, ‘Got me,’ and, ‘I’m gonna make sure you I get your 4 yards [per carry], I’m gonna take you where want to go.’ I liked that. I can tell he really likes to compete.
“I watched [tape of] him when he got drafted. To be able to move that well and be that big, that’s crazy.’’
What’s crazy is the Jets haven’t had a left tackle to anchor their offensive line with any authority since D’Brickashaw Ferguson retired in 2016.
Becton looks like he has a chance to fill that void and be a sustaining presence similar to what Ferguson was for his 10-year career.
It hasn’t been perfect, of course. On a couple occasions Monday, linebacker Jordan Jenkins had his way with Becton. But these things are supposed to happen to rookie tackles in training camp. Even tackles who tower over their teammates in the huddle.
“It’s rare that you see a 370-pound guy move the way he does,’’ head coach Adam Gase said. “It’s hard to explain what it feels like when you stand next to him. When you get next to him, you realize how big this guy is. When other players are talking about his size, his length, his strength, that’s when you know it’s real, that it’s not just a coach or a scout talking about it. He applies it on the field.’’
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For the second consecutive day, Gase gushed about how far along Becton appears to be so soon into camp.
“Everything that he’s done so far has shown me that he must have studied over this summer to come here and execute the way he’s been executing,’’ Gase sad. “It’s difficult for guys to figure out how to brush [past] him in the pass game, and in the run game it’s hard to move him back. You won’t see much penetration.
“The longer he goes through this training camp, the better he’s going to get. I feel like he’s handled everything really well.’’
That’s good news for everyone involved with the Jets … except for guys like Hewitt and Cashman when they see Becton bearing down on them in practice.
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