The Detroit Lions’ new defensive coordinator Cory Undlin comes from a defensive backs background. Not only did he play safety in college, but he’s has nearly a full decade of coaching experience with NFL secondaries. So he knows his cornerbacks.
And when he landed in Detroit, he got himself a nice little present to come along with him: third overall pick Jeff Okudah, the best cornerback in the draft. While Undlin obviously hasn’t had the chance to see Okudah on the field yet, he’s been “nothing but impressed with him since Day 1.”
Specifically, Undlin has been wowed by Okudah’s drive, which is evident even in virtual meetings.
“With this Zoom thing I’ve spent a lot of time with Jeff. I think the people in Detroit and Lions fans are going to really, really like him not only as a player, but as a person. Jeff is driven like few men I’ve been around in this profession. I know that and I can tell that, albeit (from) a Zoom call. I mean the guy, he’s non-stop. To the point where it’s like, ‘Jeff, can we not talk about football for like five minutes? Can we talk about something else? Do you do anything else? Like, what are we doing?’
“That’s how he’s wired, and I look forward to obviously getting him out there and see what it looks like when he’s on the grass, because, like you said, we haven’t been on the field yet. So we’ll make that decision (on his 2020 role) down the road, but after the past last three months, after we had the opportunity to draft him, it’s been nothing but impressive, and I’m super excited for him and his future.”
Undlin isn’t the only one who has noticed Okudah’s incredible work ethic. Just last week, teammate Justin Coleman noted how impressive the rookie has been in team meetings.
“He’ll ask questions about certain things that don’t even have to do with cornerback,” Coleman said. “So it just shows that he knows a lot about football.”
For a rookie, the transition to the NFL could be tough. There’s a lot to take in, and obviously a big step up in talent. For the cornerback position, especially, we often see a player take a few years to fully grasp everything. And that rookie season can be overwhelming learning a new scheme. But even with Okudah’s incessant hunger for information, Undlin is not concerned about burnout for the young corner.
“Am I worried about the kid getting burnt out? No, no. Not whatsoever,” Undlin said. “Now that rookie wall when you hit Week 10 or Week 11, that’s a different ball game. But as far as mentally, I’m not worried about him getting burnt out at all.”