Editor's note: NBC Sports Bay Area will preview the NFL Draft with a look at the 49ers’ top needs, profiles of prospects that might fit their needs, along with some hidden gems. In this installment, we profile Louisville offensive lineman Mekhi Becton.
When 49ers general manager John Lynch posted a video from his home office to give fans a glimpse of how the team is preparing for the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, his television screen was paused on a clip of college game film.
A little detective work revealed that Lynch likely scouting Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton (pronounced Ma-kai BECK-tin).
Several scouts and draft pundits believe the 2020 NFL Draft will have the best class of offensive tackles in several years and Becton is one of the reasons why. At only 20 years old, he is a mountain of a man standing 6-foot-7, weighing 364 pounds with only 17 percent body fat.
For his size, Becton is very athletic, known for his explosiveness and speed. The 49ers have expressed confidence that veteran Pro Bowl tackle Joe Staley will return for the 2020 season. Even if Staley does return, the 49ers need to plan for the future and look for his replacement in the draft. Becton would be a perfect fit.
Private offensive line evaluator and coach Duke Manyweather worked with the Louisville product prior to the NFL Scouting Combine and has been very impressed with what he has seen from Becton.
“Becton is just something special and something out of this world,” Manyweather told NBC Sports Bay Area. “With being just under 6’8 and 360 with his mobility, explosiveness and strength, power, ability to change directions. And then on top of that he’s nasty. He’s physical, he works hard, he’s strong.
“You can’t really put him in a box because we’ve seen nothing like him. He has that old school size of like Jonathan Ogden and Orlando Pace, with this new school athleticism of these freak athletes. If he stays healthy, we are talking about a guy that could potentially be a generational type of Hall of Fame guy.”
Not only is Becton’s size and athleticism a huge advantage, but his knowledge of outside zone schemes makes him even more attractive for the 49ers. He could seamlessly slide in and quickly solidify the left side of the offensive line for the foreseeable future.
“One of the guys that has the best tape in outside zone is Becton,” Manyweather said. “Louisville ran a ton of outside zone and play-action with a lot of the things that Shanahan does.
“They ran an offense very similar to what the 49ers run. If you look at his tape, you will see almost everything that the 49ers would want a tackle to do. He was also left on an island a lot to pass protect.”
Becton will likely be selected before the 49ers' No. 13 overall selection in the draft. But if he's available, drafting Becton would be a smart move for the 49ers.
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NFL draft profile: Mekhi Becton
Weight: 364 pounds
Career stats: Played in 23 games in two seasons at Louisville, received Jacobs Blocking award, named First-Team All ACC
40-yard dash: 5.1 seconds
Bench press: 23 reps
What experts are saying
Todd McShay, ESPN: "Linemen weighing in at 364 pounds aren’t supposed to run 5.10-second 40 times. Becton has versatility and power, and he obviously moves extremely well for his massive 6-7 frame."
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Media: "To me, Mekhi Becton is a freak, from Louisville, an absolute freak. I'm not in the business of trading off freaks at a need position. He's going to be that guy for the next 10 to 12 years to protect your franchise quarterback. He's so big, so long, so athletic, even when he is not perfect, it doesn't matter because nobody can get through him. He's 6'7", 370 pounds. You just don't see guys like that come around very often."
Lance Zierlein, NFL Media: "Enormous frame complemented by surprisingly nimble feet and functional athleticism to handle either tackle spot. Becton's combination of movement and force should allow him to fit easily into all running schemes, but he needs to play with better patience in order to control and redirect all that mass into centered blocks in both run and pass. His technique and set-up are better than expected in pass pro, while his size and length allow him to recover and redirect both inside and outside rushes."
Draft projection: First round (top 15)