The Detroit Lions selected cornerback Jeff Okudah with their top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and as such, he’s subject to all of the hype and scrutiny an early pick gets.
Recently, in a state of the franchise piece at NFL.com, Adam Rank explained the top storylines for this coming season in Detroit. As part of that, he named the top player who is the new face to know. In a busy offseason where the Lions added plenty of talent to the team in free agency, Okudah stands alone as the player who is most important to watch this coming season.
Here’s what Rank wrote as to why:
“The Lions absolutely got a great one in this Ohio State product. He was one of the best players in the draft, a high-end cornerback with a very high floor and an elite ceiling. The only problem I have is that the Lions were drafting for a need at the No. 3 overall spot — a need they created when they sent Darius Slay to Philadelphia a month before the draft. One thing I’ve admired about the Patriots in the past is that they typically seem to have stellar corners paired together. Slay and Okudah would have been a pretty amazing combination. Instead, the Lions are chasing, hoping Okudah can be a shutdown corner immediately. Maybe he will be. And if you’re the most optimistic of Lions fans, you could call this your Nick Bosa, the Buckeye who changes everything with just one pick. But that would be quite optimistic.”
No matter what type of role Okudah plays and how fast he plays it, there is a reasonable expectation he will be a player who is vitally important to the squad this season. To this end, Okudah is likely the best choice as the top newcomer. If he’s elite as Rank describes, the team’s defense will have a great season.
Okudah is important to the grand scheme at a significant position, which is why he warrants all this attention in 2020.
Jeff Okudah Signed Rookie Contract
Monday, Jeff Okudah reportedly reached an agreement on his rookie contract. It’s a 4 year deal for Okudah with the Lions, with an option for a 5th year. This was reported by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Okudah, the No. 3 pick in the draft, comes to Detroit as a player who is primed to take over a huge role for the team’s defensive backfield given the changes that have come in recent months. He’s likely to start opposite Desmond Trufant this fall for the team.
Detroit now only has one member of their draft class to bring under contract prior to training camp.
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.
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 was also a popular selection in mock drafts for Detroit, and that was proven right when the team selected him.
Now that he’s a member of the Lions, folks will not want to take their eyes off Okudah this coming season.