D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s career arc can teach us a lot. Having excellent pieces at premium positions is the foundation of a rebuild. Mekhi Becton is one of these pieces. Not unlike the New York Jets’ current draft situation, the Jets had an extra first-round pick after trading a star player. The Jets used that pick to select the top center in the draft, Nick Mangold.
Seemingly from the start, D’Brickashaw and Mangold were great and changed the tone of the offense. However, things did not come together until the team signed Alan Faneca to what was the most lucrative contract for an offensive lineman. It was this unit that led to two consecutive AFC Championship appearances.
How This Applies To Becton
There has been some talk about getting the Best Player Available at left tackle. That would be Becton to the right side, whether through free agency or the draft. Becton’s advanced stats show that he is a better run blocker than pass blocker. However, that does not mean that moving him to the right side would maximize his strengths. His sample size is too small because of the injury this year, which drastically affected the lineup. More importantly, NFL tackles are not always interchangeable. It happens frequently, and fans that grew up playing Madden will be desensitized to the actual success rate of moving Offensive Lineman around. It does happen, it works, and in some cases provides a major boost to some players’ careers.
Becton was a high first-round pick and has never played particularly poorly at Left Tackle. Joe Douglas’s strategy of building a wall up from is working but will still take some time to finish. Undoubtedly, the Jets need more help on both line units. However, I’m inclined to leave a good run blocker and an improving pass blocker on the left side before we start making changes to his career.
Yes, he has struggled at times on the left side, but that is not indicative that everything will magically fall into place if you stick him on the right side. That’s not to say it does not work: Penei Sewell has improved tremendously on the right side. Moving a player up and down the line is a legitimate technique of evaluating talent, but in some cases, a player is simply meant to play one position.
Looking To The Jets Success From Past To Present
When the Jets took D’Brickashaw Ferguson in 2006, fans were pleased with a top prospect and filled an immediate need. Later that round, the Jets selected Nick Mangold, and some Jets fans were not happy using two first-round picks on one position group. However, many fans knew that when people say players could be here for a decade, these two had every possibility of being right.
In fact, they both had lengthy prolific careers. They were the catalyst for any success the Jets had during their time. Even with the two best lineman, the Jets have seen this century, it led to only two fantastic playoff runs. Nothing is guaranteed, so the Jets need to follow a plan.
Joe Douglas has gone to great lengths to fortify this unit. The offensive line and their depth have improved, but this was always a massive task. Mekhi Becton has a chance to be great, and Alijah Vera-Tucker can comprise a solid left side of the line. Becton deserves his fair shot to prove he is the NFL left tackle he was drafted to be.