Olu Fashanu speaks during a news conference at the Jets training...

Olu Fashanu speaks during a news conference at the Jets training center in Florham Park, NJ, Friday, April 26, 2024. Credit: Jeff Bachner

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Olu Fashanu’s dream of being in the NFL came true Thursday night, and the added bonus for the Jets’ new left tackle is that he gets to learn from Tyron Smith.

Fashanu said he feels like he’s “kind of living like a fairy tale” because when he first started playing left tackle in high school, he studied video of Smith. Now the Penn State product will be able to see Smith, 33, prepare and work and he can get tips from the eight-time Pro Bowler.

“I cannot wait,” Fashanu said Friday at the Jets practice facility. “He’s truly my football idol and for me to have the opportunity to be in the same room as him and learn from him, that’s awesome.”

General manager Joe Douglas traded down from pick 10 to 11 and took Fashanu in Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft, giving the Jets needed depth on the line and their left tackle of the future.

Douglas tried moving up to get Aaron Rodgers another weapon. Three receivers went in the top nine. Rome Odunze, the Jets’ No. 1 target, went ninth to the Bears. When Douglas couldn’t trade up, he swung the deal with Minnesota that also got the Jets’ a fourth- and fifth-round pick and sent a sixth-rounder to the Vikings.

“We felt like Olu was the right choice for us because of his production, his ability to play left tackle, and his makeup,” Douglas said.

Rodgers, appearing on the Pat McAfee Show, sounded like he was hoping the Jets would take a playmaker. He applauded the pick of Fashanu, nonetheless.

“It wasn’t necessarily the top of the needs,” Rodgers said, “but I know they really loved Olu.”

“Olu is a mauler,” Rodgers added. “He had an incredible career at Penn State. He’s not going to need to jump in right away at tackle, for sure. We’ll see if we work him in at guard. I think he’s going to have a long career in the league, much longer than I’m going to be in New Jersey.

“I think adding Olu to the mix to give us even more depth to the offensive line was a great pick by Joe. We trust Joe.”

Fashanu, 21, was more of a basketball player when he was growing up. He started playing football as a freshman at Gonzaga College High School in D.C., where he blocked for quarterback Caleb Williams, who was the No. 1 overall pick Thursday by the Bears.

The reason Fashanu ultimately chose football was “it actually rewarded physicality whereas in basketball, you got penalized for that.”

The 6-6, 312-pound Fashanu played on the defensive line as a high school freshman. He moved to left tackle his sophomore year. Fashanu admitted he “wasn’t too educated with the offensive line,” so he took it upon himself to study Smith, a two-time All-Pro who was with the Cowboys.

Fashanu felt he had a similar build as Smith, and he considered him “the face of an offensive lineman.” Fashanu called it “a no-brainer” to watch Smith, who signed with the Jets this offseason after 13 years with Dallas.

“Just watching how technically proficient he is and the way he moves, there’s no wasted movement with him,” Fashanu said. “Everything he does has intent with it. The way he uses his hands. The way he runs off the ball. As a tackle, he’s the standard and he’s been the standard.”

Fashanu was a first-team All-American as a junior and didn’t allow a single sack his last two years at Penn State. He said he’s comfortable playing both tackle spots, but Fashanu might not play much as a rookie, unless the offensive line is banged up again.

Douglas rebuilt the O-line this offseason, adding Smith, right tackle Morgan Moses and left guard John Simpson. Fashanu hasn’t played guard but he would be willing to learn if the Jets need that.

“I’m willing to do anything to help this team win,” Fashanu said.

More Jets


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months