INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL is going to need a bigger boat.
The traveling exhibition known as the NFL Draft heads to Las Vegas this year, and it promises to be an even bigger spectacle than usual. The red carpet will be located on a floating stage in the iconic Bellagio Fountains, with prospects transported via boat. Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton, who figures to be one of the first names called, weighed in this week at 364 pounds, making him the heaviest offensive lineman at the Scouting Combine. The league might need to charter something more seaworthy than a dinghy the night of April 23.
"They need an extra large one for me," Becton said Wednesday morning, when he and the other top offensive linemen took the podium for their media day.
If it were to capsize, Becton, who cannot swim, thinks he will be fine.
"I'm used to standing up in the water, so I never really had to swim," said the 6-foot-7 prospect. "I hope that water is not deep so I have to swim. Two, I don't expect to stay there long."
NFL teams will be running for the life preserver at that point. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah rated him as the No. 5 overall prospect in the 2020 class, up five spots from last month's initial ranking. Jeremiah also projected him to the Giants, who own the fourth pick, in his latest mock draft.
"Dave Gettleman loves big, physical football players, and they don't get any bigger than Becton," Jeremiah wrote. "He is a mauler in the run game, and he's shockingly nimble in pass protection."
Becton declared Wednesday that he is the most dominant tackle in this draft.
"You wouldn't go wrong picking me," he said. "The tape shows it. It shows that I finish almost every play. It's as simple as that."
His 2019 tape, that is. What he put on his 2018 film is not what he wants NFL coaches to see. Yet, he knows he has to answer for it during interviews here in Indianapolis.
"My 2018 film, it looked like I wasn't passionate about football," Becton said about the first post-Lamar Jackson season for the Cardinals. "So I have to explain to them that I am passionate about football."
Part of the reason, Becton said, for that perception is his background with other sports. He was a standout on the basketball court as a center in Highland Springs, Virginia. In 2019, he put those questions to rest when he clearly demonstrated football is No. 1 for him. For the turnaround, Becton credits Louisville offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford, who came in with a new coaching staff after Bobby Petrino was let go following a two-win campaign.
"He helped me out this year," Becton said of Ledford. "I wasn't finishing at first until he got there. So he helped me out with that. … [The transition] was great. They came in with open arms. It was a family aspect from the jump when they got there. I actually talked to him yesterday, so I still look at him as family."
While still "light on his feet" at 364 pounds, Becton wants to get down to 350-355. That is the target weight NFL coaches have said they want for him. Such is life for someone whose mom is a caterer.
"She can make anything and everything," he said, adding, "Mac and cheese, fried chicken, collard greens, that's a good plate right there. You have your starch and greens."
Should the Giants -- or even the Jets at No. 11 -- pick him, he will be in close proximity to countless restaurants. But food isn't the main draw for him to the New York area. Becton said he would "love to" meet with the Giants. What's so intriguing?
"The blue and red. Nah, I just like how grimy you guys are," Becton said. "I just love the New York griminess."
"Just the state, you know what I mean," he said. "New York is just tough. I love New York."
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranks the top 50 prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft.