Many questions surround Jeff Okudah heading into his third season with the Detroit Lions. Is he healthy? Can he stay healthy? How will he look under a full season with Dan Campbell and his coaching staff?

These are all valid questions. The Lions selected Okudah with the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Up to this point, there’s been little return on investment. So we’re clear, that’s not a diss. It’s simply the truth.

However, there is one question surrounding Okudah that can be viewed as a bit unfair. And that’s whether he is a “bust” of not.

Before we get to my opinion on it, let’s examine why anyone would think so.

As mentioned, the Detroit Lions selected Jeff Okudah with the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL. This was under the previous Lions’ regime of Bob Quinn (General Manager), and Matt Patricia (head coach). With Okudah being top-five draft pick, expectations were high.

After all, most cornerbacks drafted in the top five have had good or Hall of Fame careers. There’s guys like Patrick Peterson, Jalen Ramsey, and Denzel Ward who were homerun picks in their respective draft classes. Hell, even going back a bit further, there’s Charles Woodson, and Deion Sanders, both of whom are Hall of Famers.

When a team drafts a cornerback that high, they’re looking for that type of production. They’re looking for a future Pro Bowler. They want a guy that can be an All-Pro. And they definitely want a guy worthy of a gold jacket one day.

That’s what the Detroit Lions were indirectly telling everyone when they drafted Okudah that high. They believed he could be one of those guys. They don’t take him that high if they didn’t believe so.

Unfortunately, horrendous coaching (2020) and injuries have impacted his first two seasons. In 2020, he only played in nine games due to injuries. He missed Week 1 of that season after suffering a hamstring injury during training camp. And a core muscle injury caused him to miss the final six games of that season.

Then there’s last year.

In a Week 1 loss to the 49ers, he suffered an achilles tendon injury, causing him to miss the rest of the season.

So of 33 games over two seasons, Jeff Okudah has only played in ten. Having your starting cornerback only available 30% of the time over two seasons isn’t ideal. And that’s regardless of the draft position.

Injuries aside, however, Okudah had a rough go at it during the time he played.

In the nine games he played in 2020, opposing quarterbacks completed 41 of 53 passes when targeting Okudah. For people who like numbers, that’s a 77% completion rate. And the average of their passer rating when targeting him is 118.0.

2021 was basically a wash, so there’s no need to even dive into those stats.

Because of everything I’ve outlined, I think it’s too early to say if Jeff Okudah is bust. His resume is inconclusive. By his own admission, he struggled during his rookie season because he didn’t understand expectations of him.

And that’s plausible!

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (wink, wink) to see that Matt Patricia was in over his head coaching the Lions. He didn’t develop anyone. He didn’t lead anyone. How could Okudah succeed under that? And with him missing the 2021 season, essentially, he didn’t get a chance to grow under Aaron Glenn’s coaching. Who knows what Aubrey Pleasant could help add to his game. If Glenn and Pleasant worked wonders with AJ Parker, Bobby Price, and Mark Gilbert, one could surmise they’d do even more with Jeff Okudah.

Now let’s add little bit more seasoning on this.

Look at the other cornerbacks drafted in the first round in 2020. After Okudah was C.J. Henderson, A.J. Terrell, Damon Arnette, Noah Igbinoghene, and Jeff Gladney.

Besides A.J. Terrell, those other guys haven’t made much noise in the NFL. In fact, two of them (Arnette and Gladney) faced off the field issues in their first year, resulting in their teams releasing them after one season.

The Detroit Lions don’t have those problems with Okudah.

So saying Jeff Okudah hasn’t contributed much on the field to the Detroit Lions is fair criticism. It’s a fact. However, saying he’s a bust at this point is an opinion. And quite frankly, it’s a misguided one at best.

Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.


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By Published On: June 6th, 2022Categories: NFL

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