Remember Carl Barzilauskas?
The defensive tackle was the Jets No. 1 draft choice and sixth overall in 1974 out of Indiana University. “Barzo” was supposed to be the difference on the Jets’ offensive line.
Barzilauskas was named as the NFL Rookie Defensive Lineman of the Year. but he never lived up to his hype after that. He broke his leg in 1979, and the Jets traded him to the Packers for fourth- and fifth round draft picks. He had two rather nondescript seasons with the Packers before he retired.
Barzilauskas wasn’t a total bust, but his drafting had plenty of hype like Becton.
There have been other Jets’ top picks who could fall into that category, and it also can take us to Mehki Becton.
A few days ago, Becton discovered that he would need his second surgery on his right knee over the past 11 months. His 2022 season is officially over.
The Jets’ protection of Zach Wilson also can take a big hit (see below).
Putting it in perspective, Becton will have missed 35 of a possible 50 games. He is under contract for 2023, but the 2020 top pick’s career as a Jet likely will be over.
His short career has been marred with issues and injuries. Unless Becton puts it all together next season, he will go down in the Jets’ annals as another top draft pick bust like Dee Milliner, Vernon Gholston, Blair Thomas and a few others.
Becton was supposed to compete for his designated left tackle spot with George Fant, who has continued to look like one of the more valuable pickups over the past few years. Fant was a utility backup lineman with Seattle before the Jets acquired him, and they initially saw him in the same role.
Now the Jets will look to veteran backup Chuma Edoga to get the first shot to take Becton’s spot. According to reports, Edoga had a rough day in cap Wednesday, but he lined up against the Eagles in the exhibition opener Thursday night.
Still, Fant and Edoga should be appreciated for their extended service, and their ability to stepi into a situation.
Fourth-round pick Max Mitchell will get a look at tackle and center Conor McDermott could move down the line.
Letting tackle Moses Morgan, who was a consistent performer last season, looked like a bad move when the Jets let him walk away in free agency to the Ravens, but that move now looks even worse now.
However, the bottom line (see above) comes down to Wilson. He can’t afford to be sacked another 44 times (last season) or better this fall. He also can’t afford to get banged up again to help put the Jets on the map..
This was supposed to be a Jets’ season that would take a major step. Wilson has given the fanbase promise and a rising defense has helped couple the outlook.
The offensive line with Becton was viewed to be upgraded due to some cohesion established last year.
If you’re old enough to remember back to the late 60’s and early 70’s, the Jets built a consistent offensive line behind the likes of Winston Hill, Dave Herman, John Schmitt, and Randy Rasmussen. The fifth spot was a rotating one.
The Jets were fortunate to draft tackles Chris Ward and Marvin Powell in the late 70’s. They were solid building blocks that established a foundation.
Ironically, Barzilauskas is a retired owner of orthopedic physical therapy practices. Life has a funny way to lead you some parallel paths.
Becton will be another Jets’ top pick who will be at the crossroads next season. Maybe there’s a trade to the Packers in his near future.