Throughout the rest of the winter, we’ll be previewing potential draftees for the Detroit Lions. Today, we look at Ohio State corner back Jeffery Okudah.
Slay has been one of the best corners in football for the latter half of the 2010s, as he has totaled 347 tackles, 19 interceptions and 104 passes defended in the 103 games he has appeared in over seven years of play. These impressive stats helped him earn three Pro Bowl bids, as well as a first-team All-Pro selection in 2017.
Despite all these accolades, there is a decent chance that Slay is not even a Lion next season. Even though the Lions have him signed through the 2020 season, his name has been all over the rumor mill in trade talks for the majority of the 2019 season.
Should Detroit part ways with Slay this offseason, it would be wise of them to use their No. 3 overall pick to draft his replacement in an effort to add more young talent to rebuilding secondary and play alongside cornerbacks Justin Coleman and promising rookie Amani Oruwariye.
Even if the Lions retain Slay, drafting another corner makes one of their weaknesses a big strength, as with as pass-happy the current NFL is, an team can never have too many cover corners.
This is where former Ohio State cornerback Jeffery Okudah comes into play. Lions fans who have been browsing mock drafts recently should know him as the early favorite for the Lions to draft by many experts, including but not limited to Todd McShay of ESPN, Jason McIntyre of FOX Sports and Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports.
Okudah is the best cornerback of the class coming off an impressive showing in the College Football Playoff, where he racked up five total tackles and two passes defended, proving that he does show up even on the brightest stages.
At 6-foot-1, Okudah has ideal length to cover even the biggest NFL corners, and with Detroit having one of the worst pass defenses in football last season, adding a long, talented corner seems like a no-brainer.
The former five-star recruit earned a bevvy of accolades in his time as a Buckeye, as he was named a unanimous All-American, All-Big Ten first team and finalist for the Jim Thorpe award. In his 2019 season, he was allowing a 37.6 passer rating when targeted in coverage heading into the final game of the season, per PFF.
Once Okudah gets past the NFL learning curve, he should be more than capable of helping the Lions’ bring down opponents’ passer rating, which was graded as one of the worst secondaries in football with a pitiful 50.4 rating as a unit.
At the end of the day, Okudah is an athletic playmaker who can instantly improve the back half of the Lions defense. It usually takes corners in the NFL time to adjust to the speed of play and the size of receivers, but Okudah appears to be a rare case who can be plugged into head coach Matt Patricia’s system and play marvelously.
If the Detroit Lions can count on a rookie like Jeffery Okudah to blanket opposing receivers, it allows the defense to take more risks and send more pass rushers to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.