The Detroit Lions selected a player they felt is the best cornerback in the NFL Draft in Jeff Okudah of Ohio State, but Las Vegas Raiders’ boss Jon Gruden might not be too sure that is completely true.
In an exchange shown during the first day of the NFL Draft, Gruden calls Damon Arnette to inform him he’s being selected by the team later in the night. The conversation features plenty of the same pleasantries of such calls, but then takes an interesting turn when Gruden randomly asks Arnett if he’s better than Okudah, his college teammate with the Buckeyes.
The exchange goes as follows:
Gruden: “Are you better than Okudah?”
Arnette: “I mean I’m the best in this class.”
Gruden: “You’re (expletive) right, you’re gonna have to prove a lot to everybody, man.”
Arnette played opposite Okudah in college and now the pair joins the league together looking to make an impact. Arnette put up 5 interceptions and 140 tackles in college, and those numbers were a bit beefier than Okudah’s 83 tackle, 3 interception line. Still, Okudah didn’t start the whole time, and when he finally did, he was one of the bigger lockdown cornerbacks on the team, often diverting attention to Arnette’s side of the field. As a result, Okudah is looked at coming into the league as the better prospect.
Obviously, Okudah now has even more to prove given such a public call out even though it is likely playful in nature.
Jeff Okudah Defensive Rookie of the Year Odds Revealed
While Gruden might not be sure who is better, the oddsmakers seem to think they understand already. Okudah will come to Detroit with the hopes of turning around a Lions defense which has been bad on the back end. As a result, most figure Okudah will come into the mix and start right away. When he does that, what type of season can Okudah be expected to have? New odds are in from DraftKings Sportsbook and they favor Okudah strongly to have a great season and perhaps even take home the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
While Chase Young is a +250 to take home the award, Isaiah Simmons is a +500, Patrick Queen is a +900 and Kenneth Murray is a +1100, Okudah is in fifth position at a +1600, not that far off the pace. Obviously, with a great season, it would significantly help the cornerback’s odds.
Early on he’s fairly high already.
Jeffrey Okudah Called Perfect Fit For Lions
A pair of Pro Football Focus analysts explained why Okudah is such a good fit for plenty of teams, especially the Lions, and why he ranks so highly given what he did in college.
“He is the number one cornerback in this draft class. He should be, realistically, the first cornerback drafted within the top three picks in a while,” they said. “It just hasn’t happened. It’s a rare thing to see, but for our money, the second most valuable position on the football field.”
When it came to the Lions, production is the thing that should catch their eye with Okudah most of all according to the PFF folks.
“Someone like the Lions should be more than willing to make Jeffrey Okudah their first round pick with just how dominant he’s been over the course of his college career. For his entire career in college he’s allowed 5.4 yards per target. From freshman year to junior year. That’s absurd. Rare to see a guy play at that high a level,” they said.”
Detroit might not be the only team to consider Okudah heavily, but their scheme could represent the best fit given man coverage.
“Three, four and five, Lions, Giants and Dolphins all would, should consider Okudah,” they said. “I think he is that good. We always speak to this too. With Okudah and Ohio State cornerbacks, they always play a ton of man coverage, having that experience, the Lions fit is too easy.”
The smart money remains on Okudah being a strong payer when all is said and done, and his talent figures helpful to build up a miserable defense.
Jeffrey Okudah Stats
Okudah could be the best player on the board when the Lions end up picking at No. 3. As also explained elsewhere, evaluators love his length and size. It could be a winning combination for a needy Detroit pass defense that has been exposed in a major way this season on the back end.
At Ohio State, Okudah has put up some excellent numbers in a short time. He’s collected 78 tackles, 3 interceptions, 16 passes defended and 2 fumble recoveries. Perhaps better than that for the Lions, he didn’t allow a completion over 50 yards this season.
That paints the portrait of a player who can be a potential lock down defender at the next level. Okudah has also been a popular selection in mock drafts for Detroit, and that was proven right when the team selected him.
With a big first season, Okudah could have himself in the mix for some big awards right off the bat. We’ll see in the end which prospect has the better rookie year when all is said and done.