Jeff Okudah Likely to Compete for Starts With Surprise Lion

Jeff Okudah

Getty Jeff Okudah on the field in 2020 for the Lions.

Coming into the 2022 season, most expected the Detroit Lions would turn Jeff Okudah loose at cornerback given his commitment and possible development.

While that might be true in the end, it’s now becoming clear it won’t come without somewhat of a fight during training camp.

Okudah remains in-play to start opposite Amani Oruwariye at cornerback, but a surprise competitor figures to now be in the mix to push him in the form of ex-safety Will Harris.

Speaking before practice on Monday, August 1, Dan Campbell revealed that Harris will be competing for the starting job with Okudah.

“Campbell said Will Harris is very much in play at CB. He’s going to compete for starting spot with Jeff Okudah. “May the best man win,” Campbell said as Twentyman tweeted.

This revelation is quite a story for the Lions. Harris was a struggling safety much of the 2021 season, but the staff believes they found something late in the year when injuries forced Harris to moonlight at cornerback.

Harris played more consistent at cornerback than he seemed to at safety, and this offseason, a position switch was a hot topic of conversation. It seems the Lions are going to give him more than just a chance to play a small role, however.

Harris’s Career Stats & Highlights

His first few years in the league, Harris has not been a player who has made a huge impact, which is why the Lions have looked to switch positions for a jump-start.

So far, the Lions have seen Harris only put up modest stats. He’s collected 171 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 8 passes defended for the team. Harris has seen the field consistently at safety with 28 starts, and has struggled with his play at times.

At Boston College, Harris put up 225 tackles, 7 interceptions 7 passes defended, 1 touchdown and 1 sack. That was great production that showed what he could do. Here’s a look at some of his best work from that time period:

Harris does have skills, which led him to be Detroit’s third-round pick in 2019. Now, it’s a matter of seeing if they can translate elsewhere for the Lions.

Why Harris Could Fit at Cornerback With Lions

Harris, who has been a safety in the league, could be better off at cornerback, or even a hybrid position where he rotates between safety and cornerback if need be.

Campbell discussed this when meeting with the media this offseason. While some may believe it would be best to give up on Harris, the Lions want to help him showcase his talent.

Overall, this is the right move ahead of the 2022 season. The Lions have enough holes on defense, and shouldn’t give up on a player like Harris with their need for depth. While folks will point to how Harris has struggled, he also has a chance to play a big role if he can excel in a new place.

Harris will have to work hard to earn a job, but it seems as if the Lions know the situation he could find the most success. Thus far, it seems as if he has done enough to impress people on the defensive side of the ball to be in the mix to start.

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