Sam Darnold got his protector on Thursday night.
The Jets selected Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton with the No. 11 overall pick in the NFL draft. Becton is a mountain of a man who can fill the Jets’ hole at left or right tackle. Becton is 6-foot-7, 364 pounds and ran a 5.12 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine in February.
Jets general manger Joe Douglas entered this offseason hoping to upgrade the offensive line and he did that on Thursday. Becton, 21, was considered one of the top four tackles in this draft and is considered to have a high upside.
The draft fell well for the Jets, who were worried that the four top tackles could come off the board before they drafted. Becton had a drug test flagged at the combine, but it did not faze the Jets enough to pass on him.
The Giants selected Georgia’s Andrew Thomas at No. 4 and the Browns took Alabama’s Jedrick Wills at No. 10, but several other teams rumored to be interested in taking a tackle in the top 10 did not. The Dolphins had been linked to a tackle in recent days, but took quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Cardinals took linebacker Isaiah Simmons at No. 8 instead of a tackle. The Jaguars took cornerback C.J. Henderson at No. 9.
This is the first time the Jets have selected an offensive lineman in the first round since 2006 when they took tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold. They had one of the worst lines in the NFL last season and desperately needed to fix it for Darnold and for coach Adam Gase. Douglas made some low-key moves in free agency but surely hopes he took a big step toward fixing the line on Thursday with Becton.