Over the weekend, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch tweeted out a video of himself telling the Faithful to stay safe. In that video, Lynch was watching Kentucky against a mystery opponent. As Matt Maiocco pointed out, that mystery opponent was Louisville. The Cardinal didn’t have any defensive players there were invited to the NFL Combine, so process of elimination brings us to their left tackle Mekhi Becton, who has everything you look for in a first-round tackle.
Becton measured in at 6-foot-7, 364 pounds with 35 5/8” arms. Becton stole the show at the NFL Combine by running a 5.1 40-yard dash and moving as smooth as any other lineman during workouts. In the ten mock drafts we listed earlier Monday morning, Becton went: 10th in the first three, sixth, 10th again, 12th, fourth, sixth, fourth, and 10th again for good measure. Good luck finding a mock draft that has Becton lasting to pick No. 13. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
We see it every year where a player that’s a “lock” to go top-10 falls. Deshaun Watson was picked No. 12 after lighting up college football for three seasons. Derwin James fell to No. 17 because he was “positionless.” Some of the receivers that fell in the 2019 NFL Draft had no business falling as far as they did. Teams fall in love with a player and get tunnel vision. So, this year, hopefully, teams like the Raiders find their “Clelin Ferrell,” so the good players are pushed down in the draft.
We are discussing Becton because Joe Staley will turn 36 in August. The 49ers are doing their homework on tackles, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering Staley missed nine games in 2019. The 49ers can’t put themselves in a position where they don’t have a starting-caliber left tackle. That said, San Francisco doesn’t have to force this pick. Daniel Brunskill started eight games at tackle last season, and the only games the offense didn’t score more than 20 points came against Washington and Baltimore, where the weather didn’t allow much of anything on offense to happen. Seattle is in the playoffs every season with nightclub bouncers playing tackle. Here is a list of playoff teams in 2019 and where their left tackles were drafted:
Green Bay, David Bakhtiari: fourth round
Seattle, George Fant: UDFA
Minnesota, Riley Rieff: first round
New Orleans, Terron Armstead: third round
Philadelphia, Jason Peters: UDFA
Staley is a lock to make the Hall of Fame, and he was a first-rounder. Peters is going to be a Hall of Famer, and he wasn’t drafted. Bakhtiari has made the Pro Bowl twice and was a first-team All-Pro as a fourth-rounder. The point is that you can find talent anywhere at any position, and we shouldn’t get married to this idea that the 49ers have to take “position X” at No. 13.
Why Becton is a fit
Becton has the basic fundamentals that you look for in an offensive lineman, which starts from the ground up. From his stance, base, hip mobility, being able to cut off the backside on runs, hand placement, and being able to get to your landmarks. If a college player can do all of these traits, they are going to be competent at worst in the NFL. All of the guys listed above did it in college and the NFL. Becton has plenty of plays where he puts a defender on his back with a fancy pancake. Those look great for highlights, but Becton understands leverage and what he needs to do to execute a specific block.
We haven’t seen a player as big as Becton move the way he does. Remember Bryant McKinnie? Becton can be that good, but he always moves better than McKinnie. Becton is a long, powerful lineman that loves to finish. The nasty streak is there, but Becton’s hand usage and ability to play “inside out” make him one of two tackles that, in my opinion, are worth the No. 13 overall pick.
Let’s say Becton is there at No. 13, would you select him over any of the wide receivers if they are available?
Becton over a WR?
This poll is closed
Yes, all of them
Yes, but only Lamb/Ruggs
Yes, only Lamb/Jeudy
Yes, only Jeudy/Lamb
Yes, only Jeudy/Ruggs