'I feel like I'm the most dominant tackle in this draft': 364-pound Mekhi Becton looks to make massive splash in NFL
INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL is a sink-or-swim business, something one of the 2020 draft's premier offensive line prospects might instantly encounter April 23, the night of the first round in Las Vegas.
"I get a little nervous when you start talking about Mekhi Becton in a boat going to the Bellagio," Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock quipped Tuesday at the league's annual scouting combine.
It was a reference to the NFL's plan to integrate the draft's red carpet stage with the fountains of the famous casino.
Becton, who measured in at 6-7 and 364 pounds this week after starting for Louisville at offensive tackle the last three years, took Mayock's playful dig in stride Wednesday morning.
"They need an extra large (boat) for me," chuckled Becton, who plans to attend the draft ... even if it means getting wet.
"I don't know how to swim – I'm used to standing up in the water. I hope that water's not deep."
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It probably won't take him very long to find out. Even in what appears to be an unusually deep class of tackles, Becton stands apart. He's already met with the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets, who pick 10th and 11th, respectively, in Round 1.
"I feel like I'm the most dominant tackle in this draft. You wouldn't go wrong picking me," said Becton, an all-ACC performer last season who doesn't turn 21 until April.
"The tape shows it, the tape shows that I finish almost every play."
Indeed. The dominance he flashes, manhandling smaller defenders, could well mean teams like the Browns and Jets would need to trade up in order to acquire him.
And it might be a stretch for Becton to get past the New York Giants, who select fourth – though general manager Dave Gettleman indicated Tuesday he's willing to deal out even though he desperately needs a young blind side sentinel to safeguard quarterback Daniel Jones, the team's top pick in 2019.
"I'm not in the business of trading off freaks at a need position," NFL chief draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said of Becton, whom he said the Giants should pounce on. "He's a better version of Bryant McKinnie. He's going to be that guy for the next 10 to 12 years to protect your franchise quarterback. He's so big, so long, so athletic. Even when he is not perfect, it doesn't matter because nobody can get through him.
"You just don't see guys like that come around very often. I know trade-back options exist. I know you can take a defensive play maker. To me I'm not trading off that pick. I'm sitting there right there (and) taking Mekhi Becton."
Tantalizing as his mass is, Becton admits it prompts questions. Despite Louisville listing him at 369 pounds, he said he played closer to 352. At his current weight, Becton would trail only Raiders offensive tackle Trent Brown (380 pounds) for the unofficial title of heaviest player in the league. He thinks he should ideally be between 350 and 355 pounds, hinting NFL teams agree.
"They definitely want me to lose, and I'm willing to lose weight. Whatever they need me to do," he said. "I feel like that's what everybody was looking for, the weight, see if I came in heavy or not."
That said, Becton revels in casting a large shadow, which includes a 7-foot wingspan, and enjoys putting opponents on their backs.
"It's just fun seeing a man on the ground," he said, embracing his intimidation factor. "That's what I love about the game."
And Becton especially loves what zone schemes permit him to do.
"I take a whole lot of pride into it. I love outside zone, inside zone," he said. "It's just fun running a man out of the play, taking him where I want him to go.
"They don't expect a person like me to move that well, I feel like I surprise a lot of people."
He is exceptionally nimble despite his stature – Becton's basketball background helped in that regard – though acknowledges his footwork could be improved, that he tends to play too high occasionally and needs to refine his hand placement. Becton has been watching film of Dallas Cowboys star Tyron Smith, a diminutive 6-5 and 320 by comparison, in hopes of perfecting his own technique.
However his experience on both the right and left sides and success playing with a highly mobile quarterback like former Cardinal Lamar Jackson promise to make him an attractive option to virtually every NFL team.
"Just run behind me," said Becton, who very much expects one of those Bellagio watercraft to whisk him near the top of the board.
"I didn't put this work in for nothing."
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.
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