3 first-round mistakes that continue to haunt the Detroit Lions

Brad Holmes has a nice draft record as the Lions' GM, but these three first-round mistakes by the previous regime still haunt the franchise to some extent.

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1. CB Jeff Okudah: First Round, No. 3 overall in 2020

Given how bad the Lions' pass defense has been, it sure would be nice to have a legit No. 1 cornerback. After Matt Patricia drove Darius Slay out of town, that's what Okudah was envisioned to be when he was drafted third overall in 2020.

A first NFL offseason impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic was not ideal for any rookie in 2020. Okudah also had Patricia's ineptitude working against him, as hamstring, shoulder and groin injuries limited him to nine games as a rookie.

The regime change, and Aaron Glenn coming in as the new defensive coordinator, seemed sure to benefit Okudah more than most Lions' players. But it was not meant to be, as he suffered a torn Achilles in the 2021 season opener.

Okudah recovered in time to earn a starting job in 2022 training camp, and for a solid chunk of that season he played quite well. But a concussion in Week 11 that season was a turning point in a negative fashion, By Week 17 he was benched, then he missed Week 18 with what seemed to be a phantom injury.

Okudah was traded to the Atlanta Falcons for a 2023 fifth-round pick in April of 2023. He played 13 games for the Falcons last season, with zero interceptions and three pass breakups. He's a free agent, and Mike Payton of AtoZ Sports has offered the idea the Lions could bring him back as a depth option.

Okudah not working out in Detroit was not entirely his fault. Injuries hampered him at some point in all three of his seasons, and he was drafted by general manager and coach pairing that didn't last his entire rookie season.

But the Lions took him over some notable players who went later in the first round, including AJ Terrell, who has become one of the better cornerbacks in the league and would look pretty good in a Lions' uniform right now.

If Okudah had worked out anywhere near the way it was hoped, he would have had his fifth-year option picked up and he probably would have gotten a contract extension by now. The deficiencies the Lions had a cornerback last season further spotlighted the draft miss he was.


Next. 5 players Detroit Lions should have drafted instead of Jeff Okudah. 5 players Detroit Lions should have drafted instead of Jeff Okudah. dark