The Detroit Lions have a young secondary that’s getting set to hit the field in 2020, and their rookie member is already impressing one of their oldest.
Speaking with the media, safety Duron Harmon talked about the evolution of his new team’s secondary, and admitted that Jeff Okudah has already impressed him in plenty of ways. Perhaps most notably, Okudah picked the brain of Harmon as it relates to cornerback Stephon Gilmore, one of his former teammates and one of the best cornerbacks in football.
On Zoom call with #Lions Duron Harmon. Spoke highly of rookie Jeff Okudah. Said, "the talent is there for sure." Said he was asking him questions about the Pats and Stephon Gilmore.
— Michael Stets (@Michael_Stets) August 11, 2020
Interestingly, Okudah has cited Gilmore as his favorite cornerback to watch, so he must have been thrilled to get one of his former teammates to compete with in Detroit. Clearly, the excitement and passion of Okudah is something that has captured attention around the facility this offseason. The rookie has a big job ahead of him, but with preparation like this, it would be easy to see him finding a way to obsess about how to be the best and then make it happen on the field.
Detroit’s new look secondary has plenty to learn and put together, but with Okudah, class is already in session and he’s asking all the right questions already.
Jeff Okudah Pondering How to Stop Devante Adams
Okudah clearly 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.
Duron Harmon Important Lions Addition
Credit the Lions for adding just the right type of teammate to bring together what figures to be a changed group. Desmond Trufant is coming into the mix, as is Jayron Kearse. It’s possible the Lions draft a few defensive backs as well. The team also has young, impressionable players like Tracy Walker and Will Harris getting set to come into their own.
Exposing them to a leader like Harmon will only serve to make things better, and could be a huge positive for the group in a season in which much has changed and to the naked eye, the bottom could fall out. Think of Harmon as the next generation’s Glover Quin.
Plenty has changed this offseason for the Lions already, and plenty will continue to change. Harmon brings a fresh approach, a scheme fit and a fit with the staff that is admirable. To that end, don’t be surprised if he isn’t the team’s most important offseason addition.
Matt Patricia Praises Jeff Okudah
Joining Good Morning Football last week, Patricia was asked about cornerback Jeff Okudah, and as he said, the building has already been buzzing about his love of football and desire to learn even with the short time he has been on the team.
— GMFB (@gmfb) August 7, 2020
“Jeff’s been great. He wants as much information (as possible), he wants knowledge. He wants to be the best player he can be. From that standpoint you love players like that who love football. We got a long way to go with it, but his drive, his enthusiasm, his wanting to win and be the best is something I love and I got to do everything possible to help him achieve it.”
Obviously, Patricia won’t be the only one to sing the praises of the youngster by the time the season starts.
READ NEXT: Lions Reveal First Round of 2020 Cuts