Jeff Okudah is gone to the Atlanta Falcons, so let’s give the deal a grade from the Detroit Lions’ perspective.
With a decision coming on his fifth-year option, and a role (or even a roster spot) hardly promised to him after what was done in free agency, the writing was on the wall. On Tuesday, according to multiple reports, the Detroit Lions traded cornerback Jeff Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons for a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft.
Okudah’s disappointing tenure in Detroit was not all his fault. The third overall pick in the 2020 draft, with truncated offseason work, being coached by Matt Patricia and injuries, his rookie season was not a good start to a career. In the 2021 season opener, his second season was ended before it really started due to a torn Achilles.
After a promising stretch of play for large chunk of the season, Okudah’s play fell off cliff down the stretch. Injuries and an illness played a role, but it was not a good way to finish with the Lions having the aformentioned decision to make about his fifth-year option for 2024. Then Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and C.J. Gardner-Johnson were brought aboard in free agency, pushing Okudah down the depth chart.
Okudah was not going to be a part of the future for the Lions, and he needed a change of scenery. The Falcons get to see what a still young former top-five overall pick might have, for a fifth-round pick and no commitment beyond this year.
Let’s dive into the Okudah deal, and give it a grade from the Lions’ perspective.
Grading the Jeff Okudah trade for the Detroit Lions
At first glance, it’s easy to go “only a fifth-round pick for Okudah?” “But he was the third overall pick.” Noting where someone was drafted becomes inconsequential at a certain point.
In some ways, as Lions general manager Brad Holmes noted, Okudah is still in a developmental stage of his career due to how much time he missed his first two seasons. Before last season, he had played 508 defensive snaps in the NFL. Not ideal for such a high draft pick, with naturally high expectations coming in, but it is reality.
It’s also reality that Okudah was going to be competing for a job during Lions’ training camp and the preseason. And said job was not going to be a clear-cut starting gig, barring injuries. Not that the Lions would have cut him, but he would have been buried on the bench if/when everyone was healthy–it’s worth remembering Moseley is coming off a torn ACL last October.
Frankly, performing well in camp or the preseason was not going to do much for Okudah’s depth chart status in Detroit. That being the case, he was going to be better off elsewhere.
Yes, it might have been nice to get more for Okudah (a third or even a fourth-round pick?). But to get anything for a player they signaled was not a part of their plan is a win for the Lions, and expecting anything more than Day 3 pick if they did trade Okudah was a reach.
With all of that, here’s my grade….
Detroit Lions grade for the Jeff Okudah trade: A-
What grade would you give the Lions for the Okudah trade?