At the beginning of Week 7, we posted our latest SB Nation Reacts surveys and, in addition to our weekly confidence poll, we asked the question: What surprise Lions player are you most confident in going forward?
After listing six players who have exceeded expectations through five games in 2022, fans voted on which Detroit Lions player they believed could sustain that success moving forward, and cornerback Jeff Okudah came out the victor.
Stat line on 5 starts: 24 tackles, allows on average 4 receptions, less than 50 yards per game.
Okudah went from being in competition to start during training camp to being the most stable player in the Lions’ secondary. This season, Okudah has traveled with the opponent’s top receiver. Let’s take a look at how those receivers performed against Okudah in coverage:
Week 1: DeVonta Smith — 0 receptions, 0 yards
Week 2: Terry McLaurin — 2 receptions, 22 yards
Week 3: Justin Jefferson — 2 receptions, 9 yards
Week 4: D.K. Metcalf — 3 receptions, 101 yards
Week 5: Jakobi Meyers — 1 reception, 17 yards
Outside of a Metcalf 54-yard play where he broke a tackling attempt, Okudah has been very solid through five games.
Okudah is not just gaining attention locally. Ben Solak of The Ringer penned a terrific article explaining why Okudah is finally becoming the player he was always supposed to be.
“If Okudah is exactly what these few weeks of great play foretell, he’ll become one of the league’s best man coverage players,” Solak wrote. “The Lions have plenty of cap space and draft picks to play with, and now, they have one less premium position to fill.”
Okudah received 32 percent of the votes in our poll, and he deserves the recognition, but he had another young defender nipping at his heels. Rookie linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez, a massive fan favorite, received 30 percent of the vote, suggesting fans also have considerable confidence in his sustainability moving forward.
In our weekly team confidence survey, the Lions rebounded from last week’s low mark for the current regime. After their shutout loss to the Patriots, fans were clearly not happy with coach Dan Campbell and delivered a message with a 47 percent approval rating. With the bye week allowing cooler heads to prevail, the voting found level ground, and fans' confidence settled in at 69 percent. This is still a drop from the 84 percent in Week 5, but a more understandable decline.