It’s uncertain yet feels obvious, as an analyst for Pro Football Focus has made a prediction on Jeff Okudah’s fifth-year option.
After two injury-riddled seasons to start his career, the 2022 season was a critical one for Detroit Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah. And for a big portion of it, he played quite well. Then a concussion cost him the Thanksgiving Day game on a short week, and it was all downhill from there.
From Week 11-17, before he missed Week 18 with an injury, Okudah drew a bottom-five coverage grade among qualified cornerbacks (minimum 20 percent snap share) in the league by Pro Football Focus.
Now, as those aware of contract mechanics for first-round picks know, the Lions have a decision to make on Okudah’s fifth-year option by May 1. Picking it up would put them on the hook for $11.5 million in 2024.
And after the additions the Lions made in free agency, Okudah got bumped down the depth chart.
Pro Football Focus analyst makes the obvious prediction about Jeff Okudah’s fifth-year option
Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus recently ran through every 2020 first-round draft pick, with a prediction about the fifth-year option for each being picked up or not.
The prediction for Okudah, the No. 3 overall pick in that 2020 draft if Lions fans need a reminder, was clear and obvious.
"PFF grade, 2020-22: 50.1 (180th/213)PFF WAR, 2020-22: -0.05 (300th)Fifth-year option amount: $11,514,000PFF Prediction: DeclineOkudah has battled injuries throughout his first three NFL seasons, including serious ligament tears, and it’s not perfectly clear where he is in the Lions’ long-term plans after they signed cornerbacks Cameron Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley in free agency. To Okudah’s credit, he logged nearly 800 snaps in 2022, but the Lions’ defense also ranked 29th in expected points allowed per dropback on the season."
It’s worth noting the only cornerbacks the Lions currently have under contract beyond 2023 are the newly signed Cameron Sutton and 2022 seventh-round pick Chase Lucas. Any draft picks at the position would obviously add to that list, on a level of importance commensurate to draft position.
It’s no coincidence the league calendar has the fifth-year option decision deadline for players entering Year 4 right after the draft. The Lions might take the decision on Okudah all the way to after the draft.
But the Lions drafting a cornerback or not feels moot here. At this point, it would be more of a surprise if they picked up Okudah’s fifth-year option than if they didn’t.