Offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, selected 11th overall in the 2020 NFL draft by the New York Jets, said his flagged drug test at the NFL scouting combine was a "one-time mistake" -- one he initially feared would damage his draft stock.
"It was just a messed-up drug test, you know," Becton told reporters Thursday night on a video conference. "I made a mistake, a young mistake that won't happen again. It was a one-time mistake that's never going to happen again."
Becton said he was worried "at first" by the potential fallout, but he added, "The more I got honest with teams that asked about it, the more I felt better about it. They were just telling me, 'Just be honest about it. Don't try to lie.' It was better for me to be honest about the whole situation."
It's hard to say whether the flagged test, which was leaked to the media last Friday, impacted Becton's status. He was the third offensive tackle off the board, behind Andrew Thomas (fourth, New York Giants) and Jedrick Wills Jr. (10th, Cleveland Browns).
Becton admitted he was disappointed that he wasn't picked sooner. When he received the call from the Jets, it triggered an emotional celebration with family members.
"It was surreal," he said. "When I got the call, I was pretty upset because I was expecting to go earlier. When I got the call, everybody was just screaming, I couldn't hear the call. I told everybody to be quiet so I could hear the call. It was great, a great moment."
Jets general manager Joe Douglas said the team did a "deep dive" into Becton's background, which included a long, one-on-one conversation with him on Wednesday.
"It raises a flag when an instance like that comes up," Douglas said.
Asked about their conversation, Douglas said, "The No. 1 thing that kept coming back is how good a soul this young man has and how good a heart this young man has."
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, less punitive than the previous CBA, Becton will remain in Stage 1 of the league's intervention program for up to 60 days. If he's not flagged again within that period, he assumes the same status as players who never entered Stage 1.
Becton reportedly had no flunked tests at Louisville.
Becton, who said he has a "great bond" with Douglas because they both grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area, said he "kind of figured they would pull the trigger if I made it to 11."
The massive Becton, who was 6-foot-7, 364 pounds at the combine, expressed supreme confidence about his future. He described himself as "a dominant, physical offensive lineman that likes to finish the guy in front of him every play."
The Jets declined to say whether Becton will play left or right tackle. He played both at Louisville, most recently left tackle. The Jets are hoping he can add some punch to their 32nd-ranked offense.
"He's a big man who can move people off the line in the run game and he's a tough guy to get around at that tackle position," coach Adam Gase said. "He brings an edge to us. He brings nasty to our offensive-line room."