The Cleveland Browns will be in the market for an offensive tackle in the 2020 NFL Draft, but they should avoid selecting Mekhi Becton.
I’ve always been somewhat opinionated on who the Cleveland Browns should draft, for better or worse.
In 2014, I was flashing the money sign and pumping my fist in my living room when the Browns traded back into the first round to draft Johnny Manziel. I was ready to wreck the league.
Here’s a somewhat embarrassing old tweet from the morning of the draft, threatening to not watch the Browns if they didn’t draft Manziel or Sammy Watkins.
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The last time the Browns had a first round pick, it was the same aggressively strong feeling. I wanted Baker Mayfield so bad. I pounded my fist every Saturday on my college radio sports talk show to stay away from Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen.
Now, I feel somewhat differently. I don’t passionately care which of the starting tackles the Browns draft. I don’t care if they somehow land a defensive star like Isaiah Simmons or even Jeffrey Okudah.
Sure, I’d prefer Georgia’s Andrew Thomas at No. 10 overall, but I just want them to get this right, even if it means a trade down for Ezra Cleveland and bringing in a veteran tackle.
I do have one ask.
Stay the hell away from Mekhi Becton.
At the beginning of the draft process, I fell in love with Becton just like everyone else. He’s a gigantic specimen, there’s no denying that. I’ve seen the video clips of him pushing a Ford F-150. I’ve seen his 40-yard dash. I’ve seen him bully shrimpy ACC defenders.
Unfortunately for Becton, I’ve seen that all before. Anybody remember Cameron Erving? Sure, Becton is slightly larger in stature, but they both played in the same, bad college conference. They’re both freakish athletes at the collegiate level.
Becton is too much of a work in progress for the Browns. We’ve had project left tackles before, including Erving and Austin Corbett, fizzle out and off the roster. Currently, the Browns have zero left tackles on their roster. They need to find a definite day-one starter who will undoubtedly keep Baker Mayfield upright.
I understand that Becton has “the highest ceiling” of any of the top four tackle prospects. I also understand that newly hired Kevin Stefanski brought in one of the best offensive line coaches in football, Bill Callahan. I furthermore understand that future first ballot Hall-of-Fame left tackle Joe Thomas has publicly campaigned for the Browns to draft Becton.
I’m still not sold.
Last season, I bought into the fairy-tale that Freddie Kitchens brought in the offensive line magician in James Campen, who had spent the prior 11 years coaching the Green Bay Packers linemen. Joe Thomas, of course, loved the hire and stated that Campen could make Greg Robinson a Pro Bowl left tackle. Also, Thomas defended the Browns for retaining Hue Jackson after the team’s historically miserable 1-31 stretch. Thomas also once defended Tyrod Taylor, saying that he could get into the Hall of Fame if he brings Cleveland to the playoffs.
I love Joe Thomas, but he hasn’t exactly been the Czar of Takes.
When you turn on some of Becton’s tape, it’s mostly him just bullying dudes out of the paint. Don’t get me wrong, he looks extremely dominant in doing so, but most of his “moves” will never translate to the professional level. In the NFL, defenders are way too athletic for tackles to just stand straight up with little-to-no bend in the knee and serve as a brick wall, unfortunately.
Becton’s hand placement is super strange and inconsistent. When he can’t bully a defender away, he looks like he’s playing patty-cake with them.
On Friday night, reports stated that Becton had a flagged drug test at the Combine. This isn’t the end of the world, since the new collective bargaining agreement has loosened up on marijuana punishments. Instead, he can be forced to seek substance abuse help.
However, if Becton’s drug of choice was something other than marijuana, he could face a suspension. Again, still not the end of the world. Laremy Tunsil’s infamous gas mask video certainly wasn’t a great look, but he turned out just fine.
The issue is, the NFL Combine is the one time where players literally know they’re about to be tested. There’s nothing random about it. Lay off the lettuce for a few months and nobody will ask any questions. Something about that rubs me the wrong way.
According to Scott Petrak of the Chronicle-Telegram, the Browns grilled Becton on his technique (or lack thereof) during their pre-combine meeting. This helps me sleep at night as Stefanski and company are aware that he’s far from a perfect prospect.
As a sure-fire first-round selection, I’m sure Becton is going to make an NFL team very happy. If he can develop a skill set that backs up his massive frame, he does have the making of an elite offensive tackle. However, the Browns aren’t in the position to nurture Becton with Mayfield still on his rookie deal.