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Jets trade down a spot, take OT Fashanu at No. 10


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets went with protection over a pass catcher with their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

Penn State offensive tackle Olu Fashanu was selected at No. 11 overall by New York after the Jets traded down one spot Thursday night.

“I'm just excited about Olu,” general manager Joe Douglas said. “A proven pass protector, left tackle. I feel like he can really develop and become an impact player for us moving forward.”

The pick came after the Jets dealt the No. 10 overall selection to the Minnesota Vikings — who took Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy. New York also sent a sixth-rounder (No. 203) to Minnesota, which traded No. 11 overall along with a fourth-rounder (No. 129) and a fifth-rounder (No. 157) to the Jets.

There was some buzz leading up to the draft that New York could go with Georgia tight end Brock Bowers or try to get one of the top wide receivers. But the selection of the 6-foot-6, 312-pound Fashanu gives the Jets depth on their revamped offensive line, added protection for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a potential future starter.

“It wasn’t necessarily the top of the needs, but I know they really loved Olu," Rodgers said on “The Pat McAfee Show” after the Jets took Fashanu. "I love what Joe did, moving back and getting a couple more picks.”

Fashanu said New York "definitely showed interest” in him during his visit with the team leading up to the draft, but he wasn't sure the Jets would take him.

“Honestly, I think they did a good job of disguising it because it didn't seem like any more than any other team that showed interest," Fashanu said during a video call with reporters. "I didn't want to say it throughout the process, but after taking a (top) 30 visit after the combine, for me, the Jets was the obvious place for me.”

After injuries and inconsistency caused New York to constantly shuffle its starting five up front, Douglas focused on upgrading the unit in free agency during the offseason.

Among the major moves the Jets made were signing eight-time Pro Bowl selection Tyron Smith, acquiring offensive tackle Morgan Moses from Baltimore and signing former Ravens guard John Simpson.

They’re all expected to start, along with center Joe Tippmann and right guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. But Smith is 33 and has played only 30 games in the past four seasons because of injuries. Moses is also 33 and was sidelined for three games last season with a torn pectoral muscle that required surgery.

And both tackles are only signed to one-year deals. So, Fashanu gives the Jets an option in case of injury this season — and a player who could potentially take over next season.

“I feel like I'm kind of living like a fairy tale or something like that,” Fashanu said of playing with Smith. "He's the first player I ever watched while watching film as a tackle. I didn't start playing football until I was a freshman in high school and, at the time, he was the absolute standard at left tackle.

“So for me, getting the opportunity to watch years upon years of film of him and now having this great opportunity to learn with him and learn any tips of advice that he has for me, what more can I ask for?”

Fashanu was an Associated Press first-team All-America selection and the Big Ten offensive lineman of the year last season. He was a two-year starter at left tackle for the Nittany Lions and allowed only one sack in his entire college career.

Fashanu said he took a lot of practice snaps at right tackle in college, but Douglas said the Jets project him as a left tackle in the pros. And that means Fashanu will likely mostly sit for at least a year behind Smith.

“I think that's what he's had his most success at in high school and college,” Douglas said. “Obviously, he's been a dominant left tackle at Penn State the last two years. We've got a great room of vets that can take him under their wing and great coaches that can develop him.”