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New York Jets Add Elite Tackle, Huge Haul in First Round of NFL Draft

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The New York Jets went for long term protection on Thursday night at the NFL Draft, passing up the chance to select Georgia tight end Brock Bowers.

After swapping first-round spots with the Minnesota Vikings, the Jets used the No. 11 overall selection to draft Penn State left tackle Olu Fashanu. The three top-flight wide receivers were already gone, but New York could’ve had Georgia’s leading receiver who was the consensus No. 1 tight end prospect.

The failure to add a plug-and-play pass-catcher for future Hall-of-Fame field general Aaron Rodgers is somewhat of a disappointment, but the Jets are seemingly comfortable with TE1 Tyler Conklin’s ability to contribute in the passing game.

With Odunze going to the Chicago Bears ninth overall, New York shifted focus to the offensive line and added an explosive understudy for their two 33-year-old starting tackles.

“I don’t think it mattered who we picked, really, it was gonna be a tough path to the starting lineup,” said general manager Joe Douglas on Thursday night in Florham Park.

In addition to a long-term solution at left tackle, Fashanu provides legitimate insurance at a crucially important position responsible for protecting a 40-year-old quarterback.

“Proven pass protector. Left tackle, feel like he can really develop and become an impact blocker for us moving forward,” said Douglas.

Although the selection may not pay immediate on-field dividends, it’s hard to knock the Jets when they traded back one spot and still secured what some draft pundits saw as the No. 2 offensive tackle
prospect behind Notre Dame’s Joe Alt.

“Obviously, been a dominant left tackle at Penn State the last two seasons,” said Douglas.

Fashanu started 12 games in 2023, earning Rimington-Pace Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year honors. One year earlier, the behemoth bookend allowed no sacks in 281 passes blocking snaps over eight starts as a junior.

“Him being a left tackle, just 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, high impact pass protector,” said Douglas. “I don’t think he gets enough credit for his run blocking.”

If recent injury history is any indication, Fashanu will take meaningful snaps at some point in 2024.

“Definitely, the last two years have been a revolving door of offensive linemen,” said Douglas.

New York was forced to use 12 different starting offensive line combinations last year, including starting five different players at right tackle.

All things considered, especially the extra fourth-round and fifth-round picks they added, the Jets made the right choices on Thursday night.

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