Eagles analysis

What surprised Jeff Stoutland the most about Mekhi Becton

“Really impressed with his football IQ, his intelligence, his versatility.”

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There was a point in his career — and not all that long ago — where Mekhi Becton would have resisted a move to guard.

“Yeah,” Becton says now. “There was.”

Heck, the former first-round pick didn’t even want to move from left tackle to right tackle during his Jets career. So when Jeff Stoutland recently approached the 25-year-old lifelong tackle and asked him to take some guard reps at OTAs … nobody really knew how he’d respond.

But things have changed for Becton. The team that drafted him 11th overall gave up on him. His contract dwindled. His future grew uncertain.

Those things have a way of changing one’s perspective.

“Mekhi’s done a great job of just saying yes,” Jordan Mailata said. “He hasn't questioned him, he's never said, ‘I've never done it.’ In fact, he embraced the opportunity to learn how to play guard, and you know when I see things like that from Mekhi it just makes me want to play next to him if his number is called. 

“Because you want guys who are just going to be willing and able to put the team first before their own needs.”

Becton hasn’t been here long — the Eagles just signed him on April 28 — but he’s quickly emerged as a potentially valuable piece along the offensive line. When Lane Johnson skipped a couple minicamp days, Becton took first-team reps at right tackle. And with Landon Dickerson out for mandatory camp with an excused absence, it was Becton who got the first-team reps at left guard.

“Really impressed with his football IQ, his intelligence, his versatility,” Stoutland said. “I didn't realize he was able to play other positions. So that in itself is (important), just to have that swing value and the willingness to want to do it. 

“He's a fun guy to coach. He loves football.”

Why was Becton so willing to try a new position?

“I mean, when you’ve already got two tackles like Jordan and Lane,” he started out and didn’t have to finish the thought. 

With Sua Opeta and Jack Driscoll leaving via free agency, the Eagles were pretty thin along the interior offensive line coming into spring practices. Matt Hennessy is here, but if Becton is the one getting starter reps at a brand-new position, that tells you a lot about the o-line pecking order.

“Coach Stout and the way he treats his players and the way he talks to them, you're going to do whatever for him,” Becton said. “So once he came to me with that opportunity, I was always open to it. I like to try new things anyway.”

After a promising rookie year, Becton was limited to one game in 2021 and 2022 because of knee injuries. He bounced back last year to start 16 games but fell out of favor with the Jets after committing 16 penalties and allowing 12 sacks at left tackle.

New team, new start, new everything. It's only June, but so far, so good.

“Yeah, he's probably had one of the best offseasons here,” Johnson said. “Just a big, strong, powerful dude. I think he's going to help us a lot this year, whether he plays tackle or guard, but a guy that big that can move that well, we definitely need him out there.”

Along with Kenny Pickett, Saquon Barkley, John Ross and Devin White, Becton is one of five veteran former first-round picks Howie Roseman acquired this offseason.

Even if Becton can give the Eagles a reliable backup at multiple positions, this will be a good signing. But maybe he can be more. If Tyler Steen struggles at right guard, it’s not that far-fetched that Becton could get a shot there. It’s also not that far-fetched for the Eagles to see Becton as a viable long-term piece of the offensive line.

He’s only signed through this year at a very modest $2.75 million, but maybe a change of scenery and a healthy dose of Stoutland U. is what he needed to jumpstart his career.

“Yeah, I would love for it to be long term,” he said. “I'm definitely looking forward to it. I want it to be long term. I love the city of Philly, I love the people here, I love the fans. Like, it's great. I hope it's long term.”

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