The Detroit Lions have a young difference maker on the roster in cornerback Jeff Okudah, and while he hasn’t yet taken a meaningful NFL snap, he could already be on another level.
Okudah was dominant in college, which led to him being the No. 3 pick in the draft by Detroit. Folks might not realize just how good Okudah was unless they take a deeper look at the stats. Fortunately, Pro Football Focus gives a good look at that with a new statistic.
Last season, Okudah impressed by being the only player in college football not to allow a completion 15 yards or more. That’s an absurd number considering the offensive talent in the game.
Jeff Okudah: Only CB in the 2020 class to not allow a single 15+ yard catch in press coverage last season. pic.twitter.com/9qoXEsgNyL
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 9, 2020
In the past, players like Darelle Revis have been referred to as an island at cornerback. Truthfully, Okudah was the closest thing to that at cornerback in college football. While he enters the NFL with something to prove, it’s more than possible that Okudah already has the talent to be a lockdown franchise player in the league.
Jeff Okudah Impressing Duron Harmon Already
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.
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.
Jeffrey Okudah Stats
What makes Okudah so good? 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 in recent years 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. The Lions hope he can bring that same type of effort.