Lions draft Jeff Okudah: Here’s why Detroit got the perfect cornerback for its defense

Despite a plethora of rumors, the Detroit Lions ultimately were unable to trade back from No. 3 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, but going with cornerback Jeff Okudah from Ohio State is anything but a consolation prize. 

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound outside corner with 32 5/8-inch tentacles for arms is a press man monster. 

And that’s vital for Matt Patricia’s defense. Why?

Per Sports Info Solutions, the Lions played straight man coverage 54% of the time in 2019, the highest rate in the NFL. From his time in New England, Patricia’s defenses thrived with on-an-island cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Malcolm Butler, and most recently, Stephon Gilmore. 

Because of his length and hand work at the line, Okudah suffocates receivers with ease, and because of his supreme athleticism, he routinely sticks in the hip pocket of receivers down the field. He wasn’t targeted often at Ohio State because of that stifling combination, but when he did, he showed awesome awareness to make a play on the ball. He had 17 pass breakups over the past two seasons and intercepted three passes in 2019. 

Especially after moving on from veteran star Darius Slay, the Lions needed an alpha press man cornerback and made a prudent decision with Okudah, the clear-cut top cornerback in this class who fits their scheme perfectly. 

It’s really difficult to find a fault with Okudah’s game, particularly given that he also has 4.48 speed down the field. In a division with Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, and Adam Thielen, the Lions needed a serious, lockdown outside cornerback and they got one with the Ohio State stud. 

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