The Detroit Lions are convinced Jeff Okudah is the total package as he enters the NFL at cornerback and the reason has everything to do with the type of person he is.
Okudah always wants to be prepared, a trait he learned early in his football career while at Ohio State. Part of that is doing all the work to try and master the position. As Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press explained in a piece, Okudah did some heavy research into wideouts during his time in college, and a name he will now face off with came up in Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers courtesy of his former position coach Jeff Hafley.
Here’s Birkett’s window into Okudah’s mind:
“Often, Okudah would ask about the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and what made them so great. And the best receivers.
At one point, he asked Hafley which NFL receivers were best at getting off the line of scrimmage. Hafley, who coached defensive backs for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-13), Cleveland Browns (2014-15) and San Francisco 49ers (2016-18), pulled up tape of Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams, whom Okudah will face twice this fall with the Lions.
“Then what he has to do, he wanted me to show him DBs that did a good job against him and how they did it and why they did it,” Hafley said. “Trust me, at this point we were like in the middle of game week, so I pulled out, whatever film I watched I probably had a couple clips from the Niners that I had and probably showed him a couple guys being patient and get him at the line of scrimmage.”
Such an intricate mind for his craft is likely what landed Okudah high on Detroit’s wish list this offseason. Half of being a successful cornerback is talent, but the other half involves having the right mindset for success as well as the right mind for preparation. It’s clear Okudah has this in a big way to be putting in this kind of effort in college.
Now, Adams will be coming for Okudah a few times a year, but the cornerback will at least have an idea going in what he’s up against. That could prove significant into the future.
Jeff Okudah Reveals Promise For Lions Fans
Okudah tweeted out a photo of himself in his new Lions colors, and if that wasn’t enough, he also revealed a promise. According to the cornerback, he’s going to give his all for the team he was just drafted to join.
It’s one thing for a player to say he plans on giving his all, but it’s another for him to do so publicly and make it a mindset. That’s what Okudah appears to be doing here.
For most, this will be the first time anyone has gotten a look at what Okudah will look like in his new Detroit uniform. Okudah will wear his collegiate No. 1 when camp starts, and after that, will have to pick a new jersey number to wear when he starts in the NFL.
Regardless of what number he wears, it’s nice to see Okudah understands the most important thing is playing hard for his new city.
Jeff 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.
Jeff 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 was also a popular selection in mock drafts for Detroit, and that was proven right when the team selected him.
Okudah will be bringing a fresh, hungry mindset with him to work this fall. That’s something that should excite Lions fans looking toward the future.