Solid Veterans, Former Faces Lions’ Top Jeff Okudah Replacement Options

Dre Kirkpatrick

Getty Dre Kirkpatrick celebrates a big play in 2020 with the Cardinals.

The Detroit Lions are dealing with an unfortunate injury to start the season, and the depth of a young defensive backfield will take a massive hit with the loss of cornerback Jeff Okudah to a ruptured Achilles.

Detroit will almost certainly have to have some workouts and get a look at some players in the absence of Okudah in order to help come in and steady the ship.

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So what players could make the most sense for an addition? Here’s a look at some of the top names the Lions can turn to now after the bad news on Okudah.

Quinton Dunbar, Cornerback

A former undrafted free agent cornerback out of Florida and a converted wide receiver, Dunbar made waves with his ability to come in and star with Washington from 2015-2019. He was a productive member of the secondary racking up 180 tackles, 10 interceptions, 40 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery and 1 sack. Dunbar burst on the scene and had his best season in 2019 when he put up 4 interceptions alone for Washington. In 2020, Dunbar was traded to the Seahawks, and had an up and down season last year which was rankled by injury and inconsistency. He was signed to a one-year deal by the team this offseason but then released before the end of camp in Detroit. The Lions could turn back to him for some depth now.

Corn Elder, Cornerback

A former fifth-round pick out of Miami (FL) by the Carolina Panthers in 2017, Elder lasted a couple of seasons in Carolina before signing with the New York Giants in the 2019 offseason. He then went back to the Panthers in 2019 where he stayed until 2021 when he became a free agent. In the NFL, Elder hasn’t done much but be a solid special teams player and a cult hero. He’s put up only 43 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 1 pass deflection. With Miami, Elder was productive with 117 tackles, 6 sacks, 3 interceptions and 5 fumble recoveries with 27 passes defended. Elder was a part of final cuts in Detroit this year after securing an interception in the preseason finale, so the Lions could double back on him at this point in time for a quick depth signing.

Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback

One of the bigger-name players still on the market, Kirkpatrick is aging at 31, but does have solid stats to his name from the league considering 358 tackles and 13 interceptions. The bulk of Kirkpatrick’s career has been spent in Cincinnati, but recently, he played 2020 in Arizona and had 3 interceptions and 56 combined tackles. The Lions could probably do a lot worse than Kirkpatrick from a depth and veteran standpoint, so he could be a player that makes sense for an addition at this point in time.

Buster Skrine, Cornerback

A 32 year-old veteran, Skrine has played for three teams in his 10 year career, and most recently played for the rival Chicago Bears before being released in March of 2021. With 563 tackles, 85 passes defended and 9 interceptions to his credit, Skrine is one of the more stable veteran presences the Lions could turn to in order to patch the hole temporarily. He’s not going to be a long-term solution or wow anybody with his physical skills, but the Lions could do a lot worse in terms of a guy who could step in and be ready to play immediately for the roster once he gets immersed into the defense.

Phillip Gaines, Cornerback

Detroit personnel man John Dorsey will have a history with Gaines, having drafted him in the third-round of the 2014 NFL draft out of Rice. Gaines has not enjoyed s productive career by any means at age 30, but he could be a stable presence for the defense given his 152 tackles, 18 passes defended and 1 interception in his career. Gaines has signed with a Dorsey-led team before given he brought him to the Cleveland Browns in 2018, so he could be someone to watch the team might like to provide some depth.

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