Surging Lions Defender Called Team’s Top X-Factor for 2022 Season

Dan Campbell

Getty Dan Campbell coaching the Lions during a 2021 game against Arizona.

The Detroit Lions have improvement as a big goal for the 2022 season across the board, but that’s especially true for the team’s defense.

Detroit needs to find a way to button things up on defense, and the back end is a big point of emphasis for the new season after a tough finish to 2021.

Fortunately, the team has a chance to get some solid play out of Jeff Okudah to help things out. Already, the team is seeing a surge from the cornerback, and the hope is building that he could become a key piece for the team.

That’s something that is already being seen by analysts looking at the team. 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.

Okduah Earned Job for 2022 Season

After the game on Sunday, August 28, Campbell was asked about Okudah’s play and admitted he came away very impressed with what Okudah was able to do.

“I thought he did some good things. I thought he’s been trending in the right direction now for two weeks. So I would say he finished up strong and he’s going in the right direction,” Campbell told the media.

So is Okudah the starter for the defense at cornerback coming out of camp?

“Yeah, I would say that. I would say it’s looking like that. There’s nothing that tell me after these two weeks that that’s not his job right now,” Campbell said.

That puts Okudah ahead in his battle with Will Harris, and ensures him a top job with the team in 2022. Given he will be on the field, it will also give Okudah a good chance to live up to his billing as a key x-factor for the roster.

Okudah Has Chance at Rebound Season

To say that Okudah is an x-factor for the team is likely a spot-on analysis. Given he was drafted with a top-five selection, it’s long been clear that he has talent if only he could put it all together.

The good news? Already, it sounds as if Okudah has gained confidence. His play has been more impressive in camp and the preseason, and he is showing signs of coming around as the season pushes closer.

With a healthy, solid Okudah, the Lions may have solved one of their biggest problems from 2021. Amani Oruwariye needs a running mate, and if Okudah can capably step up, the team may have a pair of solid cornerbacks that are young and can grow together.

Should Okudah step up statistically, the Lions could be dangerous on defense. Oruwariye is already borderline elite, and behind him, the team has some good depth. The missing link seems to be one more solid corner, and Okudah could be that guy.

It seems very fair to proclaim him as the x-factor for the new season with this in mind.

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