Last year, the Minnesota Vikings and Rick Spielman showed that they were finally committed to making the offensive line a higher priority. The Vikings took Garrett Bradbury at 18th overall, signed veteran Josh Kline, and spent draft picks on the high upside of both Dru Samia and Oli Udoh. The plan seems to have worked so far, and the Vikings line looked much improved last season, but still wasn’t good enough to get them over the hump.
Most notably, they seemed to lack punch and size. Pat Elfien looked overmatched more often than not, but the Vikings have solid depth options at guard with Dru Samia and veteran Dakota Dozier on the roster. Where the Vikings can really improve is at the left tackle position.
Riley Reiff has been solid at left tackle, but often looks slow against elite pass rushers like Kahlil Mack. Reiff is also 31 years old and can’t be considered the future at the position. Oli Udoh did a fine job when spelling Reiff, but he’s still a couple years from being a real starter and may never get there. If the Vikings want to fix the second most important position on the offense, they should target a guy who should be ready to be plugged into the lineup on day one.
With the team lack of cap space, they will have to do that through the draft. One option could be Mekhi Becton, an absolute monster from the University of Louisville. At 6’7” and 369 lbs, Becton looks like the perfect left tackle. His arms are long and his hips are wide. He also moves incredibly well for a guy of his stature. Becton has actually already been drawing NFL comparisons to both Trent Brown and Bryant McKinnie.
One of the biggest risers on my latest 2020 #NFLDraft big board was Louisville OT Mekhi Becton (6-7, 360) – my 25th ranked player. Strength, size, and underrated athleticism for days.pic.twitter.com/6mc03wbWqi
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) January 11, 2020
When you watch tape on Becton, the first thing that strikes you is his explosiveness with his hands when engaging with defenders. It isn’t uncommon to see him throwing defenders on their backs. This won’t happen as much at the next level, but it indicates that he has the strength to hold his own against NFL defenders. When he isn’t throwing people around, he’s at least knocking them off of their spot. Because of Becton’s long arms, he’s able to reach out and use his strength without drawing holding penalties.
Holy crap, Mekhi Becton…
(Left Tackle) pic.twitter.com/PZFPri8gmO
— Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL) February 4, 2020
His first step is also good enough that he is able to get depth and stop rushers from getting to his quarterback. He has the ability to set his feet and hold up against most any rush, and is light enough on his feet to reset after initial contact without giving himself up. He can even get upfield and open holes on screens, where he sells the fake and then uses that explosive step to get out in front of his running back.
There are a few concerns with Becton, and the first is pretty minor, but possibly important. At Louisville, Becton was rarely asked to pass block out of the three point stance. More often than not, the Cardinals telegraphed their plays by having the tackles stand up in a two point stance with their outside foot already back. This makes the tape of his first step lose some value, but when he was asked to pass block out a three point stance, he still did okay. It will be interesting to see how he does at the next level and if he can keep from telling the defense what play is coming.
Another issue isn’t with Becton, but with his possible fit with the Vikings. In their pursuit of a more effective offense, the Vikings have decided to go smaller and lighter. This doesn’t fit with Becton, who is a giant of a man, and would traditionally be used in a power scheme. However, Becton is in a special category with his ability to stay light on his feet and move and could find success in almost any offense.
The final note I have on Becton is that in some of the film I watched, it seemed like he was much less effective in the fourth quarter. I know this is an issue in general with the transition from college to the pros, but it is a bigger concern with large guys like Becton. Going hand-in-hand with that is injury concerns. Becton did miss one game as a senior with an ankle injury. That’s not enough to say there is an issue, but it can become a problem with heavier linemen.
Really enjoyed watching Mekhi Becton’s film. Teams looking to establish an identity up front should be all in on him. pic.twitter.com/g0yU5y47mi
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) February 3, 2020
If the Vikings want to snag Becton, they may have to move up in the first round. Becton is certainly a top tackle in a draft that is somewhat thin for linemen. Mocks have him going anywhere from 10-25, but I suspect he won’t last past 15, especially if he gives a strong showing at the NFL combine. That means the team would have to sell off some picks, something that does not really fit into Rick Spielman’s plan, but he may be persuaded with how good Becton is.
If the Vikings do move up to get Becton, it will be another pick to reassure the fan base that the team cares about improving the line in front of Kirk Cousins. However, I think it is unlikely that this is a guy the team is truly targeting enough to attack the board to get him. If he falls to 25, maybe they make the call, but it’s unlikely he sticks around that long.
Projected Draft Position: First round
Floor: Matt Kalil
Ceiling: Bryant McKinnie
Best Traits: Size, Upper body strength, Agility
Biggest Drawbacks: Stance, Scheme fit, Stamina