Jeff Okudah will be the No. 1 cornerback taken in the NFL draft and there’s not much dispute among evaluators. At Ohio State, he had shoulder surgery after his freshman year, slowing his development down slightly, but his junior season was a master class in coverage, as he led the team with three interceptions and nine pass breakups while posting 35 tackles and two forced fumbles. As a rule, teams did not want to test Okudah, but when they did, it was usually the wrong choice.
Okudah is extremely smooth in his footwork while also being disciplined in his technique. He’s mostly used in man coverage, as he can shut down the best receivers but also excels in zone. His weakness is tackling, but he did improve as a tackler last season.
His technical skills are off the charts as a coverage corner and he checks all the boxes as a team player with a strong work ethic. As far as his prospects of a good NFL career go, there’s little doubt that a healthy Okudah will excel, even when facing adversity, which will always come for a young coverage corner making the leap to the NFL.
Jeff Okudah is a true shutdown prospect at cornerback who has the size (6’1”, 205 lbs), speed (4.48-second 40-yard dash), toughness and ball skills to be an elite NFL starter. Okudah fits the profile of a No. 1 cornerback and should be one of the best young corners in the league. He’s that talented. — Matt Miller Bleacher Report
Jeffrey Okudah’s off a spaceship, man. Players with his flexibility and fluidity don’t have his length and size, and even players with such a physical profile don’t have the eyes and mind that Okudah does. Okudah’s elite ability to play with both his eyes in the backfield and his back to the ball stems from extremely quick eyes, a balanced base, and insane reactionary athleticism. Okudah is never out of position and regularly baits QBs and creates opportunities to attack the football because of his elite range of motion. Okudah is scheme-transcendent and matchup-immune, and projects as a high-caliber starter in Year 1 with an All-Pro ceiling during his rookie contract. — Benjamin Solak - The Draft Network
Mock Draft Results
Fantasy impact: Rookie year
After the Lions traded Darius Slay away in a Matt Patricia power play, they grabbed Desmond Trufant from the Falcons — but Trufant is a much better zone coverage corner than man-to-man coverage corner and the Lions are a man coverage defense the bulk of the time. They will need someone to step up with the loss of Clay and Okudah is that guy. They could trade out of the No. 3 pick, but as far as need and draft spot go, the Lions are the pick.
There will be growing pains, but Okudah already looks seasoned in his technique and should be able to make an immediate impact. Patricia wants to run the ball on offense as a base and beefing up the defense is a must if you want to run the ball consistently in the NFL. Okudah would go a long way in helping Kerryon Johnson see good work in closer games.
Fantasy impact: Career
Okudak has the chops to be an elite corner for a long time to come. If he can reach those heights and lock down No. 1 receivers, the NFC North’s receivers will need to take notice. Adam Thielen, Davante Adams and Allen Robinson could see their numbers take a hit against the Lions and their man coverage ways as they take on the Lions twice a season.