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Jets Trade Down One Slot to No. 11, Take Penn State T Olu Fashanu as Their 1st Pick of Draft

Green & White Flip Round 1 Picks with Vikings; Fashanu: 'The Jets Were the Obvious Place for Me'


The Jets, with all the talk of trades developing in the NFL Draft, wound up executing the first trade of the night, switching spots with No .11 Minnesota, which moved up to No. 10 while the Green & White were on the clock.

And with the 11th overall selection, the Jets selected Penn State tackle Olu Fashanu to compete for a starting job and help with the depth and quality of the offensive line in protecting QB Aaron Rodgers and moving head coach Robert Saleh's offense down the field as the 2024 season approaches.

"We're really excited to welcome big Olu to the Jets," general manager Joe Douglas told reporters shortly after the trade and the 11th selection were completed.

Fashanu was a four-year player and a two-year starter at left tackle for the Nittany Lions. After an injury-shortened 2022 season in which he was named second-team All-Big Ten Conference, the focused, driven Fashanu put it all together last season with 12 starts, and at the end of the year he was selected by Associated Press as a first-team All-American and named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. He was also a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, a.k.a. "the Academic Heisman."

When he started to make his NFL team visits, he just had a feeling that he and the Jets might be destined for each other.

"They definitely showed interest," Fashanu told the team's media Thursday night. "I think they did a good job of disguising it, it didn't seem to be any more than any other team that showed interest. But after that visit, after the Combine, for me the Jets were the obvious place for me."

"It was such a unique draft class at the tackle position," Douglas said. "We really felt there was a handful of guys that were unbelievable players. Olu being a left tackle, what he does in pass pro, very low pressure rates, playing in one of the top conferences in the country, he's just a really high-level pass protector. And I don't think he gets enough credit for his run-blocking. He's just a big body, a very tough, competitive young man."

"You know me by now. O-line, Dline, the more the merrier," Saleh said. "You can never have enough." The coach added that having recently acquired veteran tackles Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses helps with Fashanu's transition to the pro game. "They have so much wealth of experience, not only in technique but in also how to be a pro and prepare at this level. The young man's only 21 years old. He hasn't even scratched the surface yet."

Fashanu sees many benefits to putting on the green and white as soon as next week's rookie minicamp. And three of those reasons are three of the players he watched video of when he first started playing football at his Washington, DC, high school: QB Aaron Rodgers and fellow tackles Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses.

"Aaron Rodgers, just growing up watching him and all the gereat things he's done throughout his career, to have that opportunity to be on the same team and just ask him any bits and tips and advice as to what made his career so successful, that's just the best opportunity," he said.

As for Smith, Fashanu said, "I feel like I'm living a fairytale. He was the first player I ever watched when I started watching film as a tackle. At the time, he was the absolute standard at left tackle." Similarly for Moses: "He's a guy I've watched a lot of film on from the past. To have the opportunity to learn under two veteran tackles, I'm just truly blessed."

Besides the 10th overall pick, the Jets also sent their sixth-round selection, 203rd pick to the Vikings, and they received in return the Vikes' 11th pick as well as their fourth-round choice (129th) and their fifth-rounder (157th).

"The added ammo is great. It gives us more flexibility," Douglas said. "We'll assess how the rest of this round goes, we'll put our board together for tomorrow night, and there are going to be five or six scenarios as far as moving up, moving back. Having those extra picks gives us a lot of flexibility to do different things."

The Jets have gone to the Happy Valley well often over the years, with Fashanu the 28th Nittany Lion to be drafted by the Green & White. Many of the noteworthy Penn State Jets draftees played on the defensive side of the ball, beginning with LB Ralph Baker (43rd, 1964), followed by DE John Ebersole (98th, 1970), LB Greg Buttle (67th, 1976), LB Lance Mehl (69th, 1980), S Harry Hamilton (176th, 1984) and DT Lou Benfatti (94th, 1994).

See the best images of the 11th overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft, OT Olu Fashanu.

More recently, PSU offensive players have predominated: TE Mickey Shuler (61st, 1978), RB Blair Thomas (2nd, 1990), OL Roger Duffy (196th, 1990), FB Richie Anderson (144th, 1993), TE Kyle Brady (9th, 1995), T Kareem McKenzie (79th, 2001) and most recently QB Christian Hackenberg (51st, 2016).

The last time the Jets took a tackle in Round 1 was Mekhi Becton out of Louisville 11th overall in the 2020 draft. The last time the Jets selected a tackle higher than 10th was when they plucked D'Brickashaw Ferguson out of Virginia fourth in 2006. The other fourth overall tackles in Jets history were LT Chris Ward (Ohio State, 1978) and RT Marvin Powell (Southern Cal, 1977), who started 84 of 93 games together as the Jets' bookend tackles from 1978-83.

Other Jets Round 1 tackles who played for the team included Dave Cadigan (8th, 1988), Mike Haight (22nd, 1986) and from their AFL days, Dave Foley (26th, 1969) and William Yearby (13th, 1966).

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