Olu Fashanu drafted to be the most important understudy in the NFL

The New York Jets addressed their offensive line in free agency with two veteran signings but still drafted Olu Fashanu out of Penn State with the No. 11 overall pick, making him one of the most important backups in the NFL.
Rutgers v Penn State
Rutgers v Penn State / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

No team in the NFL is more all-in on the 2024 season than the New York Jets. General manager Joe Douglas hitched his wagon to Aaron Rodgers before last year’s NFL draft but only got five snaps out of the future Hall of Fame quarterback before a season-ending Achilles injury. 

A year ago in the draft, the Jets narrowly missed out on Georgia’s Broderick Jones, whom the Pittsburgh Steelers traded up to select. New York took Will McDonald IV, a pass rusher who racked up three sacks as a rookie, and without offensive line help, their season was lost in Week 1. This year, Douglas made sure not to miss out on a loaded offensive line class and potentially selected the best one. 

The Jets will be happy to enter the season with Olu Fashanu, who didn’t allow a single sack across his 1,347 snaps at left tackle for Penn State. Fashanu could have been a first-round pick last season and may have even gone to the Jets, but a year later, New York gets its long-term solution to a problem it began to address in free agency. 

While Fashanu stayed in college a year longer than expected, he’s still viewed as a project in the NFL, and with the Jets, he’ll have time to develop. This offseason, the Jets, terrified to leave the draft empty-handed with Rodgers returning from his injury at 40 years old, signed Tyron Smith, a 33-year-old future Hall of Fame left tackle with injury concerns of his own. 

Fashanu likely won’t take the field in Week 1, but he immediately becomes the most important understudy in the league. If Smith or 33-year-old right tackle Morgan Moses miss any time, then Fashanu will be tasked with protecting Rodgers and preserving New York’s hope of its first playoff appearance since 2010. 

The Jets also added to the quarterback room by signing Tyrod Taylor, and perhaps more importantly, trading away former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson to Denver. Still, if Rodgers suffers another injury, the experiment will be a failure and owner Woody Johnson will likely clean house. That’s a lot of pressure on Fashanu if he ever takes the field in Year 1.

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