When the Chicago Bears made that huge trade Tuesday for defensive end Montez Sweat, it took away the immediate need of having to use a premium round draft pick on a pass rusher. Now granted, they could still add another pass rusher, but chances are it won't come until at least the third round and perhaps early Day – 3 of the Draft. That means that with their two high first-round picks, they will more than likely be looking for players at different positions of need.
Sure, they could use one of the picks on a quarterback, but with nine games still to be played in the 2023 season, it's still way too early to say they will definitively select a QB. The Bears brass still needs to find out if Justin Fields or Tyson Bagent is or could be the quarterback of the future.
If the Bears were to select a quarterback, they would have to hold one of the first two picks in the Draft in order to select that player. Without question, the quarterbacks who will go first and second are USC's Caleb Williams and North Carolina's Drake Maye.
If the Bears hold one of those two picks and they determine that quarterback isn't the position they want to draft, they could easily trade out of that slot and pick up a bundle of picks similar to what they did last year when they traded the first overall pick to Carolina.
If that happens to be the scenario, they will more than likely still hold two very high picks, and one of the picks could be for an offensive tackle. Personally, I really like Braxton Jones, and I feel that he is a winning tackle in the NFL. His development this year has been slowed by a neck injury that has kept him out of the last five games, but chances are he will be back in the lineup tomorrow or next week at the latest.
The 2024 NFL Draft will have two left tackles that are highly thought of and are sure to be, at worst, Top 10 selections. One is Penn State's Olu Fashanu.
Fashanu is a fourth-year player and still has one more year of eligibility. He almost entered the Draft a year ago, but because education and earning his degree are very important to both Olu and his family, he decided to go back to Penn State for one more season. The ironic thing is that had he entered last year's Draft, he was certain to be a Top-10 selection in that Draft. Yes, he is that good!
Olu red-shirted his freshman year and did not see any action during the 2020 season. In his sophomore season, he played in nine games as a backup and special teams player. Last year, he played in and started eight games at left tackle. He missed four games because of an undisclosed injury. In the eight games he played, he dominated and showed he was one of the better tackles in the country.
This season, nothing has changed as he has started all of Penn State's eight games, and like a year ago, he has dominated. Fashanu has ideal tackle size at about 6060 – 318 with very long arms and excellent overall athleticism. When we watch the tape, his movement skills are so good that he makes things look easy. He has good speed and short-area quickness. His change of direction is excellent, and his ability to bend (a needed trait for the Oline) is almost rare. He is what we call a natural knee-bender.
In the run game, Olu has excellent snap reaction and gets into his blocks very quickly. The trait that I love is his hips on contact. That shows how explosive he is; he jolts his opponent and is able to get movement on a consistent basis. When blocking at the second level, he again makes things look easy as he can get out into space, adjust on the move, and hit a moving target. When Fashanu makes contact, he consistently runs his feet and always looks to finish his blocks. Finishing a block for Olu is putting his opponent on his back.
In pass protection, he is a very similar player in that he can set very quickly and is able to stop speed rushers with ease. His lateral movement is excellent as he stays under control and shows quick feet and recovery skills to mirror pass rushers consistently. Because of his natural knee bend and his large lower body, he has excellent ability to anchor. He seldom, if ever, gives ground to a bull rusher.
There are many keys to good offensive line play, but one of the most important is hand use. OLinemen need to have strong, quick hands and be able to punch and position their hands in the correct places on a consistent basis. That is another area that Olu does very well. Like with his run block contact, Fashnu's punch can jolt his opponent. His hands are very quick, and he consistently keeps his hands inside to avoid getting called for holding.
Overall, Fashanu has few negatives. He plays the game the way it is supposed to be played, and that is with a physical, aggressive nature. His competitiveness is second to none, as he goes hard on every snap.
Overall, I see Olu Fashanu as a sure Top 5 pick in the 2024 Draft. The only other offensive lineman who may challenge to be the number one guy is Notre Dame's Joe Alt, who we will talk about at another time. Fashnu is a plug-and-play prospect in that he will be in the starting lineup right from the start and upgrade an offensive line he plays for.