LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — For the 16th time in program history, the University of Louisville football team has developed a player taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Mekhi Becton, the Cards’ mammoth offensive tackle, joined the select club Thursday night when he was chosen by the New York Jets with the No. 11 pick.

Only two players from Louisville have been drafted higher than Becton.

With many mock drafts slotting him at No. 10 to the Cleveland Browns, Becton’s status was not hurt by the news from last week that he had a drug test flagged at the NFL Combine in February. Becton was the third offensive tackle selected during Thursday's first round.

"I can't express how happy I am for Mekhi and his family to be a first-round selection," U of L head coach Scott Satterfield said. "There aren't many people that are that big that can move the way he does, and he has such a bright future.

"He really answered a lot of questions on the way he played this year, and to his credit, he put all the work in to be one the best in the country. He's just scratching the surface with his potential and he has the opportunity to be an outstanding tackle in the NFL for a long time."

Becton started as the Cards' left tackle for three seasons, delivering as a powerful run blocker and a dependable pass protector. His 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine — 5.1 seconds — was the fastest by a 300-pounder since 2006.

Becton’s size (6 feet 7, 364 pounds) and speed made him a tantalizing prospect.

"He does things at 355, 360 pounds that 290-to-300 pound players do,” U of L offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford said earlier this week. "When Mekhi is able to do those things, he's bringing a lot more force. He's special and just as good a person as you see on the field, I think the same thing of him off the field as well.

"Being around him for this past year and just seeing his growth and development, from our first meeting that we had, through all the conversations that we've had with him throughout all season long, we knew the NFL was important to him and that's a thing that he wanted to accomplish.”

Ledford and Satterfield planned to join Becton in Las Vegas, Nevada, to celebrate his draft success. But those plans were canceled after the NFL was forced to shift to a virtual draft conducted by Commissioner Roger Goodell from the basement of his home because of the novel coronavirus outbreak. 

Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated’s site devoted to the Green Bay Packers ranked Becton the top offensive tackle prospect in the draft. Huber wrote that Pro Football Focus charted Becton’s performance this season and said he allowed one quarterback sack, five quarterback hits and six hurries in 12 games for the Cards. (Becton sat out Louisville’s victory over Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl.)

Here are the other 15 Louisville players who were taken in the first round:

  • Pick 9 — Ken Kortas, tackle, St. Louis, 1964. 
  • Pick 10 — Amobi Okoye, defensive lineman, Houston, 2007.
  • Pick 11 — Lenny Lyles, running back/defensive back, Baltimore, 1958. 
  • Pick 12 — Sheldon Rankins, defensive lineman, New Orleans, 2016.
  • Pick 13 — Joe Johnson, defensive end, New Orleans, 1994.
  • Pick 14 — Devante Parker, receiver, Miami, 2015.
  • Pick 18 — Calvin Pryor, safety, New York Jets, 2014
  • Pick 18 — Jaire Alexander, cornerback, Green Bay, 2018.
  • Pick 19 — Otis Wilson, linebacker, Chicago, 1980.
  • Pick 23 — Bruce Armstrong, offensive tackle, New England, 1987.
  • Pick 25 — Ted Washington, defensive lineman, San Francisco, 1991.
  • Pick 26 — Marcus Smith, Philadelphia, defensive end, 2014.
  • Pick 28 — Eric Wood, Buffalo, center, 2009.
  • Pick 32 — Lamar Jackson, Baltimore, quarterback, 2018.
  • Pick 32 — Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota, quarterback, 2014.

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