Steelers Projected to Land Local College Product With ‘Loads of Potential’ - Sport News

Steelers Projected to Land Local College Product With ‘Loads of Potential’

Penn State left tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu is generally considered a top 15 pick in the 2024 NFL draft. Bleacher Report’s consensus rankings rated him the No. 6 overall prospect in the entire class. Additionally, a lot of mock drafts have Fashanu off the board in the top 10.

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But there could be a scenario where he lands with the Pittsburgh Steelers. At least that’s what The Athletic’s Ben Standig suggested on March 25.

In his latest mock draft, Standig slotted Fashanu to the Steelers at No. 20 overall in the first round.

“Only because the draft is loaded at tackle does Fashanu remain on the board here, and the Steelers pounce to acquire a bookend tackle with 2023 first-round pick Broderick Jones,” wrote Standig.

During his junior and senior seasons at Penn State, Fashanu started 20 games at left tackle. In 2023, he earned All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and media. He also received the Rimington-Pace Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year award.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein referred to Fashanu as “a toolsy two-year starter with loads of potential.”

How Olumuyiwa Fashanu Could Fit With the Steelers

Fashanu isn’t falling to No. 20 in very many mock drafts. So, the likelihood the Steelers land him appears slim.

But if he’s available, it’s easy to see how he could fit with the Steelers.

Zierlein argued that Fashanu needs to improve his footwork in pass protection but added that the Penn State tackle already plays “with good focus and drive” in run blocking.

Under new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, the Steelers are expected to be a run-first team. Therefore, Fashanu could start immediately at left tackle and be a force for Pittsburgh’s run game.

2023 first-rounder offensive tackle Broderick Jones started the second half of the season at right tackle for Pittsburgh. He could improve in pass protection as well, but he’s showed great promise as a run blocker.

Drafting Fashanu would allow Jones to remain focused on right tackle. It could also give the Steelers the bookends to their offensive line for the foreseeable future.

“Overall, the work ethic, traits and tape make it easier to project Fashanu’s continued improvement into a very good left tackle,” wrote Zierlein.

Dan Moore Jr. has started each of the past three seasons at left tackle for Pittsburgh. Pro Football Focus ranked Moore 37th in run blocking among 56 offensive tackles who played at least 50% of his team’s snaps in 2023.

Why Fashanu Might Not Be the Perfect Choice for the Steelers

At No. 20, Fashanu could provide the Steelers tremendous value. But even still, he’s not a “slam dunk” pick.

In addition to Zierlein, ESPN’s draft experts have questions about Fashanu’s footwork. Standig suggested that Fashanu will arrive in the NFL as a very raw product.

“Based on potential, Fashanu is worthy of being the second tackle selected,” wrote Standig. “Caleb Williams’ high school teammate might also need the most developmental time among the projected first-rounders.”

With 35-year-old Russell Wilson behind center, the Steelers probably prefer a first-round prospect who will contribute immediately.

Also with Wilson, the Steelers should consider pass protection much more important. Wilson took 100 sacks in two seasons with the Denver Broncos.

Moore was the worst left tackle (who played at least 50% of his team’s snaps) in pass protection last season according to PFF. To truly upgrade left tackle, the Steelers need a starter who will provide better pass blocking on the blindside.

Fashanu may one day be an elite pass protector. But in Pittsburgh, he could sit behind Moore at least part of his rookie year.

“Fashanu is not only incredibly talented but will also be one of the youngest prospects in the 2024 class,” PFF wrote. “He is the type of athlete in the trenches you draft in the first round, even if he needs to get stronger to live up to his very high potential.”

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