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Grading the Detroit Lions’ selection of Jeff Okudah

Assessing the Lions’ first-round pick.

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The Detroit Lions made geniuses out of the entirety of local beat writers and took Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah with the third overall pick. It was a pick that just about everyone saw coming, but does that mean it was the right one?

Here are my quick thoughts on the Lions’ decision to draft Okudah.

Perfect fit

It bears repeating just how snug of a fit Okudah is on this Detroit Lions roster. Not only does he come in and immediately take over one of the starting outside cornerback jobs, but his similarity with what the Lions like to run makes him a candidate to start out the year hot.

Here’s what the Lions will love about him:

  • Ideal cornerback height at 6-foot-1
  • Played almost exclusively man coverage at Ohio State
  • Elite footwork and quickness a la Darius Slay
  • Uses big frame to be successful at press coverage
  • Not afraid to go against top competition

Aside from maybe Derrick Brown, there was just not a better defensive fit for the Detroit Lions in this draft.

Smart, hard-working personality

Where I really fell in love with Okudah was at the NFL Combine. Forget his impressive athleticism, it was the interviews in which Okudah really knocked shined.

Okudah displayed his knowledge by immediately expressing his knowledge of several NFL schemes. Not only does that prove he’s a studier of the game, but it means he took the time and effort to go above and beyond in the biggest interview of his career.

Here’s NFL Network’s Peter Schrager on Okudah at the Combine:

“To prepare for the combine he was watching tapes of (Los Angeles Rams cornerback) Jalen Ramsey and (New England Patriots cornerback) Stephon Gilmore and not from their tapes from the pros, but their combine workouts,” Schrager said. “He’s that much of a student of the game, a technician in every way.

And if you’re the kind of person that cares about the Wonderlic test, he also blew that out of the water.


I know many will complain that a cornerback isn’t worth a top-three pick, seeing as it almost never happens, but I reject that notion completely. In today’s NFL, coverage is key and given Okudah’s unique talents, I don’t think it’s a hard case to make that he’s valuable enough for top-three honors.

I’m sure everyone would prefer a top-tier pass rusher to help the Lions’ lackluster ability to get to the quarterback, but with Chase Young gone at No. 2 to Washington, that opportunity wasn’t there. And some would argue coverage is more important than pass rush anyways.

Additionally, recent examples are starting to chip away at the old adage that cornerbacks take a couple years to develop. Both Marshon Lattimore (11th overall) and Denzel Ward (fourth overall) made Pro Bowls in their rookie season. Okudah could very well do the same.

But why no trade?

We won’t know until Bob Quinn speaks if the Lions had any trade down offers on the table, but it was certainly a mild disappointment that Detroit couldn’t pull off the ideal move of trading back a couple spots and nabbing Okudah anyways. With the Dolphins and Chargers both getting their quarterbacks, it seems to suggest that the possibility was there, but it didn’t happen.

Trade downs are always easier said than done, but it’s hard not to come away at least a little disappointed that Detroit couldn’t get another pick out of this.


My only disappointment here is that Detroit didn’t get to trade down. Because I’m not an NFL GM, I don’t know what, if anything, Quinn turned down, so I can’t be too mad overall.

That’s why I’m giving this pick a B+ overall.

How about y’all?

UPDATE: If the Schefter report that the Lions didn’t receive a single trade-down offer, then I’ll bump this up to an A grade.


What grade do you give the Jeff Okudah pick?

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  • 64%
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