Detroit Lions NFL Draft: Jeff Okudah is the safest pick for Bob Quinn

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

We’ve saved the expected pick for last in today’s string of NFL Draft coverage.  The safest pick the Detroit Lions could make in tonight’s draft is corner Jeff Okudah.

When the Detroit Lions General Manager (GM) Bob Quinn sends the pick into commissioner Roger Goodell, I expect it to be Ohio State’s stand out cornerback Jeff Okudah.  He’s the perfect fit for the style of defense Matt Patricia wants to run.

Okudah has been regularly compared to New England Patriots lock-down corner Stephon Gilmore, what a tremendous compliment to give the kid.  Okudah check’s all the boxes; he’s a lengthy man-to-man corner that excels in press coverage.

The Detroit Lions traded away one of the leagues’ top corners, disgruntled  Darius Slay. It was an atrocious pass defense last season in Detroit, in fact, a terrible defense across the board. Much of the lack of pass coverage was due to the fact the Detroit Lions failed to generate any type of pass-rush all season long.

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I don’t care how good of a cornerback you are if you are forced to cover an NFL receiver for up to five seconds play after play; you won’t be a very successful defensive back.  The Lions need to upgrade their pass-rush and find a replacement for Slay.  Okudah is the perfect replacement, now Detroit needs to generate a pass-rush.  Detroit added veteran Desmond Trufant but he’s expected to replace Rashaan Melvin rather than Slay.  If Detroit expects to use Trufant as their top corner it will actually be a downgrade from last year.  He’s a good corner, but Slay’s had a better career.  A combination of Okudah and Trufant though will serve as a significant upgrade to last year’s group leaving us with some hope in the secondary.

Here is the thing with Okudah, he’s a tremendous athlete, he will step onto the football field on day one and be an above-average corner.  A corner that will match up against the opponent’s top receiver and take them away, the problem is, taking a corner with the third overall pick is less than ideal.

Similar to how I feel about taking Derrick Brown with the third pick, I don’t like it at all.  I think the Detroit Lions could trade back a few spots, maybe fifth or sixth, and still have the opportunity to draft Okudah, Simmons, or Brown.  Detroit needs to make sure one of those three players is available when they are on the clock, along with adding much-needed draft capital to fill out their roster.

Okudah ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.  He displayed a great back peddle, quite feet, fluid hips along with quick bursts and changes of direction.  Okudah completed 11 bench press reps, an impressive verticle jump of 41.0, and a stellar broad jump of 135.0.

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Last season with the Buckeyes, the rarely targeted Okudah made three interceptions, defended nine passes, forced one fumble, and compiled 34 tackles.