As Jeff Okudah pushes firmly into bust territory, here are five players the Detroit Lions should have taken instead of him in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
With the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions took Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah. From a historical perspective, though two went in the top-five in 2022, it’s rare for a cornerback to go top-five in a draft. But the mock draft buzz had the Lions taking Okudah at No. 3, and it happened.
Okudah’s rookie year has hampered by injuries, and he ultimately missed the end of the season with a core muscle injury that required surgery. Then a Week 1 Achilles’ tear cost him almost all of his second season.
For more than half of his third season though, Okudah played pretty well. But the tipping point was a Week 11 concussion that cost him the Thanksgiving Day game on a short week, and his play dropped off from there as he dealt with an illness for a time. Then he missed Week 18 with an injury that coincidentally came up on the injury report late in the week.
The combination of the Lions free agent additions and an $11.5 million fifth-year option for 2024 has Okudah’s future in Detroit on a slippery slope. It will be more surprising if they picked up that option between now and May 1 than if they did not.
A year ago at this time, it was unfair to call Okudah a bust based on things beyond his control that happened in his first two seasons. Lions general manager Brad Holmes and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn have both pointed to his lack of playing experience as a reason to be hopeful, and give him some leeway. And that’s fair to remember.
But actions speak loud, and the Lions seem to be planning to not have Okudah around long-term.
In hindsight the first round of the 2020 draft doesn’t look very good 1-32. But here are five players the Lions, albeit the previous regime, should have drafted instead of Okudah.