Top 2023 NFL Draft prospect Olu Fashanu will return to Penn State for his Senior season, a shocking decision after it appeared that Fashanu could be a Top 15 in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Nittany Lions offensive tackle quickly became one of the best tackles in the entire country, thus shooting his status up boards.
— Olu Fashanu (@olu_fashanu) November 28, 2022
The 6-foot-6, 310-pound redshirt sophomore from Gonzaga High School in Washington, DC, started in Penn State’s first eight games this season until an undisclosed injury kept him out the last four games of the season. On the season, Fashanu has allowed only 7 pressures while not surrendering a sack the entire season. Pro Football Focus grades Fashanu with an elite 84.7 pass-blocking grade.
With Fashanu returning to school, the offensive tackle group thins out considerably, especially at the top. Peter Skoronski and Paris Johnson Jr. will remain the top options for most teams, but even in the back half of the first round, there is a lack of true, quality options to embrace. Other players like Matthew Bergeron, Jaelyn Duncan, Darnell Wright, Anton Harrison, and Broderick Jones make up some of the strengths in the rest of the class. But most of those players feel like late-first-round guys at the highest.
So, for the Steelers, who may very well be in the market for a left tackle, losing Fashanu from the class changes a few things. For one, Fashanu might have just been the top tackle on the board anyways. If that is the case, Johnson and Skoronski now get pushed up the board, potentially too high for the Steelers to land one of them. Not only that, but Fashanu’s return just takes the top off the entire class. Could the Steelers look at 34 to fix the tackle position? Sure, but round one might have to go elsewhere with the value not being there.
Either way, the tackle class was thought to be disappointing but has picked up some steam in recent weeks. Bergeron, an offensive tackle from Syracuse, is a player who has received some serious hype in the last few weeks. There are even players like Dawand Jones and Cody Mauch who have risen up the boards. But the fact remains Fashanu’s return likely deters the Steelers away from tackle with Skoronski and Johnson potentially being pushed up the board.
Could free agency be the way to fix tackle? If there is a place where the Steelers should spend big money offensively, it makes sense to go all-in on the tackle group. Players such as Orlando Brown, Mike McGlinchey, and Jack Conklin will be on the market if Pittsburgh decides to go that route. Regardless, Pittsburgh has to fix the left side of their offensive line in some manner, and that means looking at options at left tackle. Fashanu’s return just muddies that picture significantly.