Detroit Lions 2020 NFL Draft: Is it Jeffrey Okudah or bust?

Jeff Okudah, Detroit Lions (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Jeff Okudah, Detroit Lions (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Cornerback has been a lingering need for the Detroit Lions for quite some time. Can the Motor City afford not to come away without Jeffrey Okudah?

For years, the Detroit Lions have been trying to find the perfect player to place opposite of three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay. That search continues as last season’s 12-game starter, corner Rashaan Melvin, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent later this month. But could a more permanent answer finally be found this year?

The search for a competent cornerback has been complicated by the fact Slay’s status on the team is in jeopardy despite the veteran still having a year remaining on his current deal. The 29-year old veteran is seeking a contract extension in Detroit, even sitting out of OTA’s and minicamp last year in an effort to obtain one.

Then there are the reports that the Lions have discussed trading Slay with multiple NFL teams. If Detroit ultimately decides to move on from their top defensive player instead of paying him, the cornerback position will become an even larger need than it already is, likely becoming the team’s biggest heading into free agency and potentially into April’s draft.

Owning the third overall selection in the upcoming NFL draft, one name has been consistently connected with the Lions. And that’s Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah. Viewed as the top defensive back prospect in the entire class, Okudah has a skill set comparable to Arizona Cardinals’ eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson. That according to draft analyst Lance Zierlein.

Recording 34 total tackles, nine pass deflections, and three interceptions for the Buckeyes last season while being actively avoided by opposing quarterbacks, Okudah has a real chance to become the NFL’s next great shutdown corner. Las Vegas Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden reportedly asked the young prospect if he was from planet Earth recently due to his immense talent.

It appears many believe Okudah could be a generational player. Peter Schrager has reported that people he’s talked to call the Ohio State prospect the best defensive back prospect in the past decade.

According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, more than half of the baker’s dozen of scouts, general managers, assistant coaches, coordinators, and agents he surveyed at the NFL Scouting Combine believed the Lions should bring Okudah to the Motor City with the third overall pick. Perhaps the organization feels the same … or should.

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Jeffery Okudah is scheduled to hit the field for workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday afternoon. If he is able to put up an impressive performance, he could solidify himself as a top-five draft pick. And it might cement Okudah as the Detroit Lions’ first pick as well.