Lions’ Matt Patricia Praises Enthusiasm of Key Rookies

Matt Patricia

Getty Matt Patricia before a game in 2019.

The Detroit Lions have a draft class they need to do big things starting in 2020, and while it’s early, Matt Patricia already likes what he sees from the young players.

Joining Good Morning Football, 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.

Patricia said:

“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.”

In terms of running back D’Andre Swift, Patricia admitted he sees the same things, but the team is going to play it slow and figure out how he can best help them this coming season while getting him acclimated properly to the unrelenting grind of the NFL.

“Swift was a great addition for us. Similar in the Okudah fashion, we’re just trying to get out and get going. Running back, those positions, especially rookies, I feel like those are hard adjustments for those guys especially the longevity of the season. Certainly you go through the first 10 games, it will look about how you thought it was supposed to, then you grind through 6 more games that looks different than maybe the college season. For us, it’s about just trying to do everything we can to put him in positions to hopefully help us win, but certainly at this point we’re trying to evaluate everything he can do for us moving forward.”

It certainly helps to have a couple motivated, exciting players coming into the mix, and they can be expected to deliver those results for the Lions when they get on the field.

Already, Okudah has caught the attention of his coach, and that’s a good thing moving forward.

Jeff Okudah Studied Davante Adams Early

As Patricia notes, 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.

D’Andre Swift Might Become ‘Greatest’ Georgia RB

As Patricia pointed out in the interview, Swift attended a running back factory at Georgia which shouldn’t hurt his case for greatness, and it just so happens he leads that factory in terms of one career stat in yards per carry.

ESPN’s Field Yates was quick to point out the stat when discussing Swift’s potential for the Detroit backfield as he gets set to enter the league this year.

Yates said:

“This is one of my favorite stats. You think about all the great running backs that have come from Georgia. Nick Chubb, great player. Sony Michel, who had an awesome rookie postseason, we’ll see what he makes of his NFL career.Todd Gurley, one of the greats. We’ve seen some studs out of Georgia. Knowshon Moreno. We’ve had a lot of really, really good players. You know who leads Georgia in terms of career yards per carry? (D’Andre Swift).”

The implication, of course, is that Swift will be able to make a huge impact in the league with the Lions as a result of his stellar college career in a place that routinely churns out great running backs. For Detroit, that’s the hope in a big way moving forward.

If Swift can live up to this billing, he might just end up the best of a great bunch in his career, no matter how he starts off in Detroit.

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