Olu Fashanu

Jets Sign First-Round T Olu Fashanu

The Jets entered Monday without any of their 2024 draft picks having been signed. That has now changed, however, with first-round offensive tackle Olu Fashanu inking his rookie deal.

As ESPN’s Field Yates notes, this four-year pact will carry a value of $20.51MM. Like with all other Day 1 draftees, New York will have the ability to extend the contract by one more season via the fifth-year option. If the team does so, Fashanu will remain in place through the 2028 campaign.

Offensive line was a concern for the Jets entering the 2023 season, one in which Aaron Rodgers‘ debut New York campaign was cut short four plays into the season opener. After struggling with poor performance and injuries up front, adding at the tackle and guard spots was a priority this offseason. As a result, Morgan Moses was re-acquired via trade to regain his old right tackle spot.

That move was followed in short order by the signing of Tyron SmithThe former Cowboys All-Pro joined on a one-year deal, and he is in place as New York’s starter on the blindside. Both Moses and Smith are 33, however, and the former is also a pending free agent. A long-term investment at the tackle spot was thus a main concern entering the draft. While New York was high on wideout Rome Odunze, it came as little surprise when the team used the No. 11 pick (acquired in a swap with the Vikings) on Fashanu.

The Penn State product was seen as one of the top tackle prospects in the 2023 class, and it came as a surprise to many when he elected to remain in school for one more year. Nevertheless, Fashanu was squarely on the first-round radar this year despite being part of an extremely deep O-line class. The Jets also had interest in fellow tackle Troy Fautanu, but like other teams they had injury concerns which steered them elsewhere.

Fashanu does not have an immediate path to playing time as a rookie, but injuries have been a constant in Smith’s career and the usually-durable Moses missed three games last season. The 6-6, 313-pounder could therefore find himself on the field in relatively short order this year. Even if not, though, Fashanu should be a fixture up front for the team in 2025 and beyond.

AFC East Notes: Allen, Bills, Coleman, Staff, Washington, Jets, Patriots, Slater, Dolphins

Having traded Stefon Diggs weeks after letting Gabe Davis walk in free agency, the Bills are facing questions about their receiving corps. The team’s top offseason investment at the position — No. 33 overall pick Keon Coleman — encouraged Josh Allen. Bills GM Brandon Beane said during a Sirius XM Radio appearance he had Allen join coaches in watching some film of receiver prospects. Coleman was among the candidates the superstar passer preferred, expressing his approval after being informed on Day 2 of the draft the Bills would go with the Florida State wideout. Although Coleman did not produce an 800-yard receiving season with the Seminoles, the Bills look set to count on the 6-foot-4 pass catcher as they remake their receiving corps.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Jets have moved on from one of the better-known members of their coaching staff. Leon Washington, who had been in place as assistant special teams coach in each of Robert Saleh‘s three seasons, did not see his contract renewed for the 2024 season, per the New York Post’s Brian Costello. This marked the former Jets kick returner/running back’s first full-time coaching gig, after a run of fellowships since his playing career ended after the 2014 season. A Jets contributor from 2006-09, Washington earned All-Pro honors in 2008. Earlier this offseason, the Jets lost special teams assistant Michael Ghobrial to the Giants. Dan Shamash, who helps advise Saleh in terms of game management, is now listed as an ST assistant for the team. Brant Boyer remains in place as the team’s ST coordinator.
  • Rome Odunze may well have been the Jets’ preference at No. 10, but after the Bears went with the Washington wideout at 9, the team was set on Penn State tackle Olu Fashanu. The Jets were also high on Washington tackle Troy Fautanu, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, but the team carried some long-term durability concerns about the Pac-12 blocker. Two other tackles — Taliese Fuaga (Saints) and Amarius Mims (Bengals) — went off the board before Fautanu, who slid to the Steelers at No. 20. Some teams flagged Fautanu’s knee as a medical concern, SI.com’s Albert Breer notes. It appears the Jets were one of them.
  • Odell Beckham Jr.‘s Dolphins contract includes a void year, which will drop his cap number by a bit. The new Miami WR3 will count $2.1MM on the team’s 2024 cap, per OverTheCap. Beckham signed a one-year, $3MM deal with the Dolphins; the team will take on a $900K dead money charge in 2025 if OBJ is not re-signed by the 2025 league year.
  • The Bills have either decided on their defensive play-caller, only to not reveal the choice publicly, or they are still in the process of determining who will call the signals come September. Sean McDermott said (via the Buffalo News’ Jay Skurski) he is delaying this decision until at least training camp. McDermott called plays last season, with the Bills having moved on from longtime defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, but the Bills now have a DC again in Bobby Babich. The Bills have been a top-five defense in each of the past three seasons, though their units — as key injuries hit in each season — have struggled in the playoffs.
  • Matthew Slater‘s immediate transition to coaching will come in a full-time role, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. The perennial Pro Bowl special-teamer is working as a “right-hand man” to Jerod Mayo, with Reiss noting the new Patriots HC is receiving input from his former teammate regarding team-building and character development. Slater, 38, spent 16 seasons with the Patriots, coming into the league in the same 2008 draft class Mayo did.
  • Staying with that 2008 draft class, one of its members recently landed a scouting gig. The Dolphins hired Beau Bell as a pro scout, according to InsidetheLeague.com’s Neil Stratton. A 2008 fourth-round Browns draftee, Bell only played five NFL games. He will make the move to a full-time role after receiving an apprentice opportunity with the Rams and serving as GM of the Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul.

Jets Notes: Wilson, OL, Odunze, Hardman

The Jets brought an end to Zach Wilson‘s disappointing New York tenure when they traded their former No. 2 overall selection for a mere pick swap on Day 3 of last month’s draft. According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, Wilson’s camp was, in the run-up to the 2021 draft, deeply worried about Gang Green’s history of failure to develop young quarterbacks and how that would impact Wilson’s own career, but the BYU product was convinced he would be the player to buck that trend.

Of course, that was not the case, and Wilson will now try to resurrect his career in Denver. Per Cimini, one of the lessons that the Jets learned from the Wilson experience is that, regardless of the round in which they draft a QB in the future, they will want to give that player legitimate competition for his role and, preferably, the opportunity to learn on the sidelines (benefits that were not afforded to Wilson).

GM Joe Douglas also said prior to the 2024 draft that, “I’d love to be a quarterback factory,” referencing the 1990s Packers that selected QBs in the later rounds of a draft, developed them, and flipped them for new draft capital down the road. To that end, the Jets selected Florida State passer Jordan Travis in the fifth round of the 2024 draft. Travis sustained an ankle injury in November that prematurely ended his final collegiate season, though he is expected to be healed by the start of training camp.

Travis will be learning behind newly-signed backup Tyrod Taylor and QB1 Aaron Rodgers, whose success will drive the Jets’ fortunes in 2024. Blocking for that group of passers will be rookie OT Olu Fashanu, whom New York selected with the No. 11 overall pick of the draft. As Cimini details in a separate piece, Fashanu is not expected to start right away thanks to the recent additions of Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses, but since both veterans will be on modified offseason programs, Fashanu will get plenty of reps at both left and right tackle during the spring and summer (Douglas suggested that Fashanu could even get looks on the interior, as Cimini relays).

The Jets did have the No. 10 pick in the 2024 draft, but they traded down one spot and selected Fashanu once Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze went off the board to the Bears, who held the No. 9 selection. That suggests that Odunze was New York’s preferred target, and though Douglas would not confirm as much, Cimini says that the Jets did try to trade up for the former Huskies pass catcher.

The club did eventually land a receiver when it nabbed Western Kentucky talent Malachi Corley in the third round. As Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network writes, some teams viewed Corley as a slot-only option, though the Jets plan to get him some reps outside the numbers as well. The club is clearly high on his ability, with Cimini reporting that Douglas started making calls about a possible trade-up to take Corley when the Packers were on the clock with the No. 45 selection. Ultimately, Douglas got his man with the No. 65 pick. Head coach Robert Saleh concedes that Corley will need to refine his route-running, but he is excited to find creative ways to use him (via Cimini).

Speaking of wide receivers, the Jets never levied tampering charges against the Chiefs for Kansas City’s pursuit of Mecole Hardman, as Cimini reported back in March. Hardman, a second-round pick of the Chiefs in 2019, signed with the Jets in the 2023 offseason. But after Rodgers was lost for the season four snaps into the 2023 opener, the Jets’ offense was in shambles, and Hardman later acknowledged during an appearance on Ryan Clark‘s The Pivot podcast that he begged Chiefs brass to “come get me” (via Cimini).

The Jets traded Hardman back to KC in October, and Douglas admitted that Hardman’s comments to Clark “resonated with us” (meaning, presumably, that the Jets may have considered tampering charges at some point).

Jets Draft T Olu Fashanu At No. 11

The Jets have made a long-term investment along the offensive line. After moving down one spot, New York has selected Penn State tackle Olu Fashanu 11th overall.

After starting the night with the 10th-overall pick, the Jets managed to move back a spot and pick up some extra selections along the way. Despite the trade back, the organization still managed to snag one of their preferred prospects.

2022 marked the first full season as a starter for Fashanu, and he put himself firmly on the first-round radar by earning All-American honors. After electing to remain in college for one more season, the 6-6, 313-pounder was again an anchor for the Nittany Lions up front, allowing just one sack in pass protection.

Despite having been in school for four years, Fashanu will be just 21 through most of his rookie campaign in the NFL. Given that, he profiles has having high upside along with an encouraging blend of size, athleticism and footwork. While he was the third lineman off the board tonight, Fashanu is still considered an elite prospect at the position.

The Jets will feature two new offensive tackles in 2024 after having added Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses. Smith, of course, has a long history with injuries, and the veteran is also approaching the end of his career. While Fashanu will surely be penciled into future Jets depth charts, there’s a chance the rookie sees playing time in 2024 as an injury fill-in.

This move comes after rumors pointed to the Jets giving Aaron Rodgers more receiving help, and while Brock Bowers remained on the board, the Jets saw the Bears nab Rome Odunze at No. 9. The team picked up some extra draft capital and opted to use another first-round pick on the O-line. This move follows the Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker investments during Joe Douglas‘ GM tenure. Considering the injury trouble Vera-Tucker and other Jets blockers endured over the past two years, fortifying the front with Fashanu is probably a wise decision.

Commanders Pursuing Late First-Round Trade

While the Commanders are set to keep the second-overall pick, the team could still be an active trade participant in tonight’s first round. According to JP Finlay of NBC4 in Washington, the Commanders have been calling teams in the bottom half of the first round.

[RELATED: Raiders Contact Commanders About No. 2 Pick; No Trade Expected]

The Commanders have the assets to move up towards the end of tonight’s portion of the draft. The team possesses a pair of early second-round picks (No. 36 and No. 40) plus a pair of third-round selections (No. 67, No. 78).

While the organization is all but certain to take a quarterback with the No. 2 pick, there are still other major needs they’d like to address. Per Finlay, if the team does pull off a trade towards the end of the first round, they’d likely be targeting an offensive lineman.

The Commanders moved on from left tackle Charles Leno Jr. and have Andrew Wylie penciled in on the other side, so the team could be seeking multiple tackles in this year’s draft. While the team likely doesn’t have the draft capital to make a trade all the way up for Joe Alt, Sam Fortier of the Washington Post suggests the Commanders could target another early-round OT who is sliding down the board. Fortier points to Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga, Penn State’s Olu Fashanu, and Washington’s Troy Fautanu as potential targets.

“It’s pretty universally known [that] it’s a really good tackle class, deep tackle class,” GM Adam Peters previously said (via Fortier). “As you can see in a lot of the mock drafts, there’s a ton of those guys coming off in the first round. We got a chance to visit with a lot of them and really at different levels. But yeah, we’re really, really excited about that group.”

While teams have sniffed around at Washington’s second-overall pick, it was recently reported that the front office hasn’t given any indication that they’ll trade the selection. While draft pundits haven’t completely ruled out Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy at No. 2, Jayden Daniels remains the favorite to be selected by the Commanders.

Draft Rumors: Williams, Bears, Fashanu, Latham, Bolts, Bowers, Seahawks, Murphy

Pass rusher and wide receiver have been mentioned most often as the Bears‘ targets at No. 9 overall. Though, the player who will almost definitely be chosen at No. 1 (Caleb Williams) in a few hours seems to have Chicago’s D-line ranked outside the top two among his positional priorities here.

I’d probably go Olu Fashanu because I know he’d put his life on the line for me, protecting me,” Williams said, via Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith. “Then I’d go one of the top three wide receivers.”

A Penn State-developed tackle, Fashanu played high school football (at Gonzaga College HS in Washington D.C.) with Williams. That makes it unsurprising the 2022 Heisman winner would stump for his old teammate. The Bears are believed to have a tackle addition on their radar for No. 9, with GM Ryan Poles splitting his staff into pods debating the merits of taking a tackle, edge rusher or wide receiver with that pick. Chicago looks to have done more work on wideouts and pass rushers, being linked to adding a weapon — potentially Rome Odunze or tight end Brock Bowers — for Williams. The team has Braxton Jones and 2023 No. 10 overall pick Darnell Wright at tackle. Fashanu grades 15th on Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com big board.

Hours away from Williams starting this draft, here is the latest:

Draft OL Rumors: Fashanu, Latham, Fautanu, Buccaneers

Some teams in the NFL are known for drafting the best player on the board in their draft slot regardless of position. Others have made a reputation for drafting players at a position of need regardless of value. The Saints are a team that could end up in the best of both worlds later this month, according to Jason La Canfora of The Washington Post.

At 14th overall, the Saints could be in position to take a player at a huge position of need. La Canfora informs us that multiple general managers in the league have the sense that New Orleans is “all about finding players to fill immediate starting needs.” With offensive line as a big position of need at the moment, Penn State offensive tackle Olu Fashanu has been repeatedly linked to the Saints.

Drafting Fashanu at No. 14 overall would hardly be considered a reach. Fashanu projects as a prototypical left tackle and, in most rankings, ranks as the draft’s second-best tackle prospect behind Notre Dame’s Joe Alt. Getting the OT2 on the board at 14th would be a huge win for the Saints, especially if Alt goes to the Chargers at No. 5, as many suspect. If someone between the Chargers and Saints selects Fashanu, look to Alabama tackle JC Latham as another potential target in New Orleans.

Here are a few other rumors concerning the offensive line class of the 2024 NFL Draft:

  • While we mentioned that most rankings see Fashanu as the OT2 in this year’s draft, some have pegged Latham in that draft slot. According to Peter Schrager of NFL Network, some teams like Latham so much that he could be taken as the second offensive tackle off the board. Alabama hasn’t had the best recent history producing offensive tackles under Nick Saban. Evan Neal, Alex Leatherwood, Jedrick Wills, and Jonah Williams all serve as recent examples who have failed to live up to their draft stock. Some see Latham projecting best as a guard at the next level, as he’ll need to continue improving to play tackle in the NFL. If those teams that see him as the second-best tackle in the draft are right, though, Latham could break recent trends for the Crimson Tide.
  • Washington offensive line prospect Troy Fautanu is another player that splits teams on where he will play at the next level. While many see him projecting as an interior lineman in the NFL (the best interior lineman in this year’s draft according to some), Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post tells us that some scouts are starting to believe he can play tackle as a pro, like he did for the Huskies. He has the talent and potential to play any position on NFL offensive lines. As we’ve reported, so far, he has visited the Bengals, Ravens, Jaguars, Steelers Eagles, and Jets.
  • One team who has been labeled as a squad looking to add to the trenches is the Buccaneers. According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, Tampa Bay is looking to upgrade at guard, center, and outside linebacker. With the 26th pick in the draft, the Buccaneers can expect to see players like Arizona’s Jordan Morgan and Kansas State’s Cooper Beebe available at guard and, perhaps, Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson at center. The top tier of pass rushers should be long gone, but players like UCLA’s Laiatu Latu, Penn State’s Chop Robinson, Western Michigan’s Marshawn Kneeland, and Missouri’s Darius Robinson could be available late in the first round.

NFC South Rumors: Bucs, Saints, Wonnum

Moving on from Shaquil Barrett after four years, the Buccaneers do have some options following that release. They saw 2023 Day 3 pick YaYa Diaby lead the team in sacks, and they signed Randy Gregory to pair with the ascending rusher and 2021 first-rounder Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. Granted, the Bucs have not seen tremendous production from Tryon-Shoyinka. Three years after that pick, the team is looking into first-round-caliber edge rushers once again. Already hosting Jared Verse on a visit, the Bucs have done “a ton” of work on UCLA’s Laiatu Latu and Penn State’s Chop Robinson, ESPN.com’s Matt Miller notes. The team was active on the pro-day circuit as well, speaking to a host of edges. The Bucs, who saw only one front-seven player (Diaby) eclipse six sacks last season, hold the No. 26 pick in this year’s draft.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Regularly investing early-round resources in their O-line, the Saints are in a bind at tackle. All-Pro right tackle Ryan Ramczyk is no longer a lock to play in 2024, and 2022 first-round pick Trevor Penning has not proven the answer yet at left tackle. The player the Saints kicked outside to replace Penning last season, Andrus Peat, is unsigned. This uncertainty has brought Saints connections to Penn State’s Olu Fashanu and Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga, ESPN.com’s Jordan Reid offers. This is a good year to need a tackle, with several first-round-caliber options available. Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com big board, which slots Fuaga 10th and Fashanu 15th overall, includes seven tackles in the top 25.
  • Going into his 14th NFL season, Cameron Jordan recently underwent surgery to address a badly sprained ankle, according to NOLA.com’s Matthew Paras. The longtime Saints edge anchor suffered the injury in late November, and while he played through it, the malady limited him down the stretch. The Saints believe the ankle issue contributed heavily to Jordan’s disappointing two-sack season. Last season marked Jordan’s first with fewer than 7.5 sacks since his 2011 rookie year. Jordan, 34, joins Chase Young as Saints D-ends who will be on the mend heading into the team’s offseason program. Young, who signed a one-year deal with much of its value in per-game roster bonuses, underwent neck surgery shortly after signing with the Saints.
  • On the subject of pass rusher injuries in this division, the Panthers will not have one of their edge pickups to start the offseason. Wonnum will not be available for Carolina’s OTAs, The Athletic’s Joe Person tweets. The former Vikings contributor suffered a torn quad near the end of last season. The Panthers gave Wonnum a two-year, $12.5MM deal; of that amount, however, only $1.25MM came guaranteed at signing.
  • Antonio Hamilton‘s recent Falcons contract is worth $1.4MM, ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein tweets. Hamilton, who played for $1.5MM last season with the Cardinals, secured $985K guaranteed in his recent Atlanta agreement. Eddie Goldman, who has vacillated on retirement since his 2022 Bears release, did not see any guaranteed money on a vet-minimum deal. The Falcons, who have ex-Bears GM Ryan Pace in their front office, are giving Goldman a third chance. The veteran nose tackle has not played since 2021.

NFL Draft Rumors: Tackles, Senior Bowl, Rakestraw

The 2024 NFL Draft class may feel relatively light at certain positions like quarterback and running back, but there’s one position that has scouts and coaches excited. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, this year’s offensive tackles group has the potential to match 2020’s class, which saw six tackles selected in the first round.

Four names have been regarded as likely first-rounders for about a year now, so the projections of Notre Dame’s Joe Alt (ranks 6th overall in Dane Brugler of The Athletic’s top 100 prospects), Penn State’s Olu Fashanu (9th), Alabama’s JC Latham (13th), and Georgia’s Amarius Mims (17th) come as no surprise. After some impressive performances in Mobile, Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga (16th) and Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton (18th) have joined those four in the range of the first round.

The top-end depth doesn’t end there, either. There are several other prospects that sit just outside that first-round range in Brugler’s rankings that still find themselves in consideration to be Day 1 picks because of strong Senior Bowl performances and a general interest in the position. Arizona’s Jordan Morgan (32nd), Houston’s Patrick Paul (55th), and Texas’ Christian Jones (NR) all sit on that fringe, according to Fowler.

With these nine guys and still more others pushing for Day 1 money, we’re bound to see a change in recent trends of five or fewer tackles taken in the first round. Even if this year’s class fails to match 2020’s six first-round picks, which seems unlikely as of now, the depth in the first two rounds of this class have a lot of teams excited about what’s available.

Here are a couple of other draft rumors from around the country, starting with more updates out of Mobile:

  • In a mailbag Q&A this week, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer gave his take on some prospects who improved their standing after this year’s Senior Bowl. Breer sees Fuaga and Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell (11th in Brugler’s rankings) as big risers coming out of Mobile. While both players were already expected to be Day 1 picks, Breer believes that they’ve played their way into the top half of the first round. He also touts Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson (45th) as a recent riser. While Wilson may not hear his name called in the first round, Breer thinks he may have pushed his way up to the second.
  • One player who wasn’t able to improve his stock at the Senior Bowl was Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw (48th). Rakestraw had been dealing with a core muscle injury for much of his redshirt junior year before opting to undergo surgery at the close of the season in December, according to Matt Miller of ESPN. After missing out on the college all-star game due to the surgery, Rakestraw, who has been considered a fringe first-rounder, was unable to secure his potential Day 1 status. The young corner has shown a resiliency in coming back from an ACL tear his sophomore year, but his injury history may be enough to push him into the second round.

T Olu Fashanu Declares For 2024 NFL Draft

At the end of the 2022 college football season, many expected Olu Fashanu to head to the NFL. Regarded as one of the top offensive tackles in last year’s class, he made the surprising decision to remain with Penn State for one more season. Now, though, he is prepared to turn pro.

The redshirt junior announced on Friday that he has declared for the 2024 draft. Fashanu again finds himself in the conversation for the top offensive lineman (tackle or otherwise) available, and he will not need to wait long to hear his name called. He joins Notre Dame’s Joe Alt in turning pro this spring, and the pair will be in competition to be the first O-lineman taken off the board.

“A year ago I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to declare for the NFL draft,” Fashanu’s announcement reads in part. “I am forever grateful that I made the decision to come back and compete with my brothers one last time while also graduating.”

2022 marked the first full season as a starter for Fashanu, and he put himself firmly on the top-10 radar by earning All-American honors. After electing to remain in college for one more season, the 6-6, 313-pounder was again an anchor for the Nittany Lions up front, allowing just one sack in pass protection. Despite having been in school for four years, Fashanu will be just 21 through most of his rookie campaign in the NFL.

Given that, he profiles has having high upside along with an encouraging blend of size, athleticism and footwork. Fashanu is listed as a top-10 prospect in many draft rankings, and ESPN’s Matt Miller has him being selected fifth overall by Washington in his latest mock. The Commanders are one of several teams projected to be near the top of the order which will be on the lookout for a new left tackle (or at least offensive line help) this offseason. Fashanu will likely have the opportunity to serve as a starter right away once he begins his NFL career in September.