Top Offensive Line Prospect Olu Fashanu Turns Down the 2023 NFL Draft to Return to Penn State

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Top Offensive Line Prospect Olu Fashanu Turns Down the 2023 NFL Draft to Return to Penn State

Chicago Bears

The NFL Draft is five months away, but draft boards around the league are already getting a significant shakeup in the prospect rankings.

Not only does it happen to be in a position of need for the Chicago Bears, but it also involves a player who seemed to be an ideal fit to pair with quarterback Justin Fields and a budding offense.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel reports Penn State offensive tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu will *NOT* put his name in the 2023 NFL Draft. And instead, Fashanu is returning to school for the 2023 season. Thamel calls the decision a surprise in NFL circles, especially since draftniks were projecting him to be the top draft-eligible lineman in his class. This is a significant piece of NFL Draft news:

Awwww, fiddlesticks!

Things were lining up for Fashanu to be a top 10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. And considering the Bears’ needs at offensive tackle, I envisioned him as a possible first-round target. In fact, three different recent mock drafts had the Bears taking Fashanu with their first-round pick. The pre-draft prospect reviews surrounding this Penn State product were awfully dreamy. And it was easy to imagine Fashanu entrenching himself as Fields’ blindside protection for years to come.

Instead, Fashanu returns to a Penn State team that went 10-2 last year and could have another 10+ win season next year as he returns to campus. Part of me sees Fashanu’s return as a possible first example of NIL money being enough to lure a top-tier NFL prospect back onto campus for another year. But what type of NIL deal would be enough to keep a top prospect from saying “so long” to campus? And are there more such moves coming?

Ultimately, we’ll end up pivoting to other offensive line options. I’m sure other O-line prospects will tickle our fancy and end up going into the draft. And we’ve already begun targeting free agent options who could become available. Maybe the Bears will still be in a spot to draft Fashanu in 2024. I’d hope not. But stranger things have happened.

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.