His first two seasons in the league, Okudah was thought of casually as a bust by many considering his injury history as well as the way he struggled. Early this year, though, it’s clear Okudah has turned over the long-desired new leaf.
While Minnesota Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson was off to a good start in 2022, he ran into the Okudah buzz saw in Week 3. Jefferson was missing in action for Minnesota most of the day as CBS Sports pointed out. He had just three receptions for 14 yards.
“Jeff Okudah put Justin Jefferson on LOCKDOWN today. 6 targets, 3 receptions, 14 yards,” the site tweeted.
While Jefferson was held down, the Lions didn’t deal well with Adam Thielen, who ended up going off for 61 yards and a touchdown. K.J. Osborn went for 73 yards and a game winning score late.
If anything, this stat proves that Okudah has arrived in a big way. He’s a serious lockdown option for the team. It also proves the Lions have to get better play next to Okudah given how they struggle covering other targets.
Okudah Locking Down Top Targets This Year
While his work in Week 3 may end up the most impressive of the young season so far, Okudah has been great no matter who he has lined up against.
In Week 1 of the season, Okudah shadowed Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. Smith got nothing done offensively against the Lions. During Week 2, Okudah put Washington wideout Terry McLaurin in the defensive straight jacket. All of that foreshadowed what he was able to do against Jefferson.
During college, Okudah was known as a true shut-down cornerback, and while he never got to show that much early in his career, it seems he is finally coming into his own with a solid career trajectory.
Okudah Was Called Lions’ 2022 X-Factor
Entering the season, most folks understood what Okudah could do on the field and how important he could be to the Lions’ defense.
Before the season began, Pro Football Focus writer Ben Linsey took a look at breaking down Detroit’s roster as part of a larger league analysis, and found Okudah to be vital.
Linsey called Okudah Detroit’s x-factor for the season, and admitted his injury-riddled and inconsistent past is a reason why.
“Okudah looked like a can’t-miss prospect coming out of Ohio State given his size, skill set and production, but he hasn’t lived up to his reputation through two seasons. Detroit will be hoping that changes for a healthy Okudah this season,” he wrote.
If Okudah can turn things around, that would be ideal news for the Lions this year. The team’s defense needs playmakers, and Okudah could be a guy who finds a way to elevate his group on his own.
So far, that has happened. If the Lions have a big finish to the year on defense, Okudah could be a big reason why that’s the case. His turnaround has been a major bright spot of the team thus far.