Jeff Okudah

Lions, Jeff Okudah Agree To Deal

No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah has agreed to terms with the Lions on his rookie deal (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Per the terms of his slot, the cornerback will earn just over $33.5MM over the course of his four-year deal with a $21.9MM signing bonus. 

The Lions’ affection for Okudah was hardly a secret in the build up to the draft. After all, the Ohio State product filled the team’s greatest need, after they shipped Darius Slay to the Eagles. There were other draft crushes on the board, like Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown and Clemson standout Isaiah Simmons, but they couldn’t let Okudah pass them by.

I would put Okudah down as the safest [defensive player in this draft],” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said before the draft. “I know exactly what position he plays, I’ve seen him play that position against elite competition and I’ve seen him play at a very high, consistent level. To me, Okudah is the safest.”

There aren’t many knocks on Okudah, and the experts say that his ceiling is sky high. In the long run, he has the tools to become one of the league’s better cornerbacks. He also figures to shore up the Lions’ D right out of the gate, with support from Desmond Trufant, Justin Coleman, and Darryl Roberts.

Here’s the full rundown of the Lions’ draft, via PFR’s tracker:

1-3: Jeffrey Okudah, CB (Ohio State): Signed
2-35: D’Andre Swift, RB (Georgia): Signed
3-67: Julian Okwara, OLB (Notre Dame): Signed
3-75: Jonah Jackson, G (Ohio State): Signed
4-121: Logan Stenberg, OL (Kentucky): Signed
5-166: Quintez Cephus, WR (Wisconsin): Signed
5-172: Jason Huntley, RB (New Mexico State): Signed
6-197: John Penisini, DT (Utah): Signed
7-235: Jason Cornell, DE (Ohio State)

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Falcons Prepared To Make “Huge Leap”

The Falcons are working feverishly to move up the board. They continue to be “the team to watch when it comes to moving up in the NFL Draft,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets

The Falcons currently hold the No. 16 overall pick, but they’ve been pressing to vault into the Top 10. They have multiple needs on the defensive side – including the pass rush and the interior defensive line – but their top priority is likely at cornerback. With that in mind, Rapoport echoes what we’ve been hearing for a while: Thomas Dimitroff is looking for a high-end cover man with eyes on Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah and Florida’s C.J. Henderson.

Most have projected Okudah to be the first cornerback off the board on Thursday, though not everyone agrees that he is the very best CB in this year’s class. More and more executives seem to be pointing towards Henderson as the best at the position. Recently, Peter King of NBC Sports heard that 40% of NFL teams have Henderson slotted as the CB1, with Okudah somewhere below him.

If the Falcons want to guarantee that they’ll get either player, they may have to move all the way up to No. 3 via trade with the Lions. Okudah has long been connected to Detroit, while Henderson has been flirting with the Top 10 boundary. But, as always, nothing is certain – anonymous sources love to run misdirection this time of year and there’s zero guarantee that Henderson would be available for Atlanta at, say, No. 8.

For what it’s worth, Falcons coach Dan Quinn has told reporters that he sees Kendall Sheffield as a potential CB1 (via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

In our league and division there are certainly some guys that you want to match up on if you need to,” Quinn said. “He’s definitely somebody with the speed and short-space quickness to do that. I definitely think he has a shot to do that, based on his speed and that I just think he’s going to continue to grow. Yeah, we’re very excited about him.

Poll: Will The Lions Draft Jeff Okudah At No. 3?

We could ask you whether the Bengals will take LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. We could also ask you whether the Redskins will select Ohio State sack machine Chase Young, who profiles as the best overall talent in the entire 2020 NFL Draft class. We could also ask you whether you think pancakes are delicious. Or whether your front lawn is green. 

[RELATED: Jeff Okudah’s NFL Draft Profile]

That doesn’t mean for sure that Burrow and Young will be the first players off the board on Thursday, but that’s the general sense in the NFL world. The real question marks start at No. 3, where the Lions may be split between their favorite draft crushes. Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown could provide them with the run-stopping solution they hoped to have in Damon Harrison. Clemson standout Isaiah Simmons could bolster them at both edge and safety, all in one shot. Still, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah is very much in the mix, and the Lions have reportedly been zeroing in on him for weeks.

There’s a convincing case to be made for each, but the Lions have a massive hole to fill at cornerback after trading Darius Slay to the Eagles. Simmons and Brown may have attributes that they want, they don’t address the team’s biggest need. Okudah, with cheetah-like speed and the smarts to stay on the good side of zebras, seems like a sensible pick.

I would put Okudah down as the safest [defensive player in this draft],” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said recently. “I know exactly what position he plays, I’ve seen him play that position against elite competition and I’ve seen him play at a very high, consistent level. To me, Okudah is the safest.”

Now, it’s time for your take. Will the Lions take Okudah with the No. 3 pick? Or, will they go in a different direction (perhaps by trading from No. 3)?

Cast your vote below (link for app users) and break it all down in the comments.

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Lions Split On Decision At No. 3 Overall?

A few options will be in play for the Lions at No. 3 overall. Despite their video chats with Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, one of them does not appear to include using their top pick on a quarterback. But a few other avenues are open.

The Lions are torn between a possible best-player-available pick with Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah and bolstering their front seven by taking Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown or Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes.

Earlier this month, Okudah appeared to be Detroit’s preference in the expected event that Washington drafts Chase Young at No. 2. The Lions traded Darius Slay and added Desmond Trufant at corner. However, Detroit ranked 29th in DVOA pass defense with Slay in the fold. Okudah would make sense here — if the Lions do not trade down. That course of action looks to be the way the Lions hope to go, La Canfora adds.

Detroit has engaged in trade-down discussions, and those conversations produced some interest. The Lions, though, are not interested in moving down too far. They would like to add draft capital but still come away with a blue-chip defensive talent, JLC adds. The Lions already have nine picks in this draft, however. Only seven teams possess more.

If the Lions do trade down, they would like to have a deal in place by Thursday afternoon, Bob Quinn said (via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett, on Twitter). They do not want to make the decision to move down while on the clock in this virtual draft. Quinn confirmed he’s discussed trading down and noted the talks will pick up next week.

The Lions recently added ex-Patriots Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton at the respective positions Simmons and Brown play. The franchise has chosen an offensive player with five of its past six first-round picks, with linebacker Jarrad Davis (2017) being the only break in that trend. They have not taken a defensive tackle in Round 1 since selecting Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in 2010 and ’11, respectively.

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Peter King’s Latest On 2020 NFL Draft

While Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah is widely viewed as the top defensive back in the 2020 draft class, at least one general manager thinks a portion of NFL decision-makers may have a different view. “I bet 40% of the teams in the league have C.J. Henderson higher on their boards than Okudah,” the anonymous GM told Peter King of NBC Sports. “Better cover guy.” Henderson, a Florida product with 30 total games and a 2019 All-SEC nod under his belt, is pegged as a first-round pick, but it would certainly be a surprise if he came off the board before Okudah, who is thought to be a potential top-five selection.

Let’s take a look at a few more draft tidbits from King’s latest column:

  • The Chargers‘ quarterback situation continues to a conundrum. While a source close to Los Angeles GM Tom Telesco tells King Telesco is high on Oregon signal-caller Justin Herbert, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn has faith in incumbent Tyrod Taylor. In fact, Lynn might be comfortable starting Taylor even beyond the 2020 season.
  • While the Chargers may target a quarterback in the first round, don’t expect the Jaguars to go after a passer with the ninth overall pick, per King. Jacksonville intends to give 2019 sixth-rounder Gardner Minshew a legitimate shot at becoming a full-time NFL starter after trading veteran Nick Foles to the Bears earlier this month.
  • Although the 49ers are already loaded along their defensive line (even after trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts), they could still target even more front four help in the first round. Specifically, San Francisco could be eyeing a defensive tackle such as South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw. The 49ers own both the 13th and 31st picks on Day 1 of the draft, leaving them ample opportunities to address nee areas.
  • The Cowboys may look to find a replacement for All-Pro center Travis Frederick after he announced his retirement earlier this year, but at least one rival executive tells King that Dallas won’t spend the 17th pick on a pivot. However, that same executive believes the Cowboys are fans of Michigan interior lineman Cesar Ruiz, and could trade down before selecting the ex-Wolverine.
  • One NFL GM tells King the Patriots “love” Herbert, but may not be infatuated enough to trade up from pick No. 23. Indeed, New England would likely need to sacrifice a 2021 first-round pick in order to move into Herbert range.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Okudah, Foles

The Lions will have a major impact on how the quarterback dominoes fall in this year’s draft. Although they are unlikely to select a rookie signal-caller themselves with the No. 3 overall pick, they have long been rumored as a team that could trade down with another club that has a bigger QB need. And if standout Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young is off the board by the time Detroit is on the clock, Albert Breer of SI.com says the Lions will indeed be open for business, as they could move down to the No. 5 or No. 6 pick and still pick up an elite defender like Jeff OkudahIsaiah Simmons, or Derrick Brown.

However, both Breer and Justin Rogers of the Detroit News believe the Lions’ preference among the non-Young defenders is Okudah, who may be gone if Detroit trades back, and Rogers does not see an immediate fit for Simmons in the club’s defense. So unless the Lions are blown away by an offer, they could stand pat and select one of Young or Okudah.

Now for more from the NFC North:

  • New Bears quarterback Nick Foles restructured his contract after being traded to Chicago from Jacksonville, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com passes along a few more details on the restructure (Twitter link). Foles will earn $8MM in base salary over each of the three remaining years on his contract for a total of $24MM in salary, $21MM of which is guaranteed. Each of those three seasons also comes with an additional $6MM in available incentives, and for every dollar of incentives that Foles earns, his base salary for the following year increases (so if he earns $3MM of incentives in 2020, his salary in 2021 will increase from $8MM to $11MM).
  • As we heard previously, Foles will have the opportunity to void the 2021 or 2022 seasons if he meets certain performance thresholds, so as Rapoport notes in a separate tweet, the former Super Bowl MVP has landed jelly-side up despite a disappointing 2019 season with the Jags. He was paid $30MM for his one year in Jacksonville, keeps the guaranteed money from his Jaguars contract, and has the opportunity to hit free agency as soon as next year if he performs well with the Bears.
  • The Vikings have managed to carve out some salary cap space for themselves this offseason, and after setting aside the funds necessary to sign their 2020 draft class, they have about $8.4MM of space still available, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter). Tomasson says that the team is continuing to look at veteran cornerbacks, which makes sense given the mass CB exodus that Minnesota witnessed last month. Dre Kirkpatrick and Logan Ryan are among the top corners still available.
  • Tomasson adds that the Vikings are still looking into a Dalvin Cook extension, which echoes his report from several weeks ago.

NFC East Notes: Okudah, Groh, Heath, Jones

While there’s still plenty of time until the NFL Draft, but murmurs around the combine are tying the Giants to cornerback Jeff Okudah, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the NY Post. Okudah is considered the best defensive back prospect in the draft class and is expected to be a top-five pick. In his final season at Ohio State, Okudah recorded three interceptions, nine passes defended, 34 tackles, and, perhaps most impressive of all, zero holding or defensive pass interference penalties.

Here are some more notes from around the NFC East;

  • The Eagles made a number of changes on their coaching staff following a disappointing season. Most notably, Philadelphia fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh, but sources familiar with the situation tell Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer that head coach Doug Pederson told Groh he would be retained for a third season. Instead, the team fired Groh alongside offensive assistants Rich Scangarello and Andrew Breiner. While there’s no direct consequence, it’s not the ideal way to conduct business.
  • Longtime Cowboy safety and defensive back Jeff Heath has received interest from a number of teams, including Dallas, as he nears free agency, per Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News. Watkins notes that things will pick up after the league and NFLPA resolve their CBA negotiations.
  • As previously reported, the Giants officially hired Amos Jones to join Joe Judge‘s coaching staff. Jones’ position on the staff had not been previously known. According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, Jones will serve as an “assistant coach/special projects and situations.”

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Jeff Okudah

Much of this year’s draft buzz is centered around LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young. Beyond those two, however, this year’s crop is chock full of potential superstars, including Young’s teammate Jeff Okudah.

No one was surprised when Okudah, one of the nation’s best cornerbacks, decided to forego his final season of eligibility to go pro. As a junior, Okudah notched 34 total tackles, three interceptions, and effectively turned his side of the field into a no-fly zone. Physically, he checks pretty much every box you could want for an NFL corner – he’s 6’1″, well-built at 200 pounds, and has the speed to keep up with just about any receiver.

Thanks to his tools, the Buckeyes were able to deploy him in man-to-man coverage whenever they wanted. He’s been lauded for his instincts as well. Okudah has a natural feel for guarding defenders and the general belief is that he won’t have a serious learning curve as he adjusts to the speed of the pro game.

Those intangibles were on display throughout the year, but they were especially apparent in Ohio State’s September win over Nebraska. In that game, Okudah came away with two of his three picks on the year. The first interception saw Okudah read the eyes of Adrian Martinez and turn on the jets to come away with the ball – making a huge play when most cornerbacks would have been forced to settle for a completion. The second interception was a SportsCenter producer’s dream – Okudah slips as he covers Wan’Dale Robinson, but continues to keep his eyes on the ball and manages to snag the interception while laying on his back. It’s the sort of thing that you could teach, or drill for, yet Okudah has the natural instincts to make the big play.

He’s also craftier than your average rookie CB, which should help him navigate around NFL zebras.

Being on an island does not faze him,” The Athletic’s Dane Brugler recently told Ethan Greenberg of the Jets’ team website. “He’s able to make contact without drawing flags and that’s something that’s a subtlety that’s a strength to his game. He’s able to get physical and be aggressive but do so without attracting the yellow flags from officials.”

There aren’t many knocks on Okudah – Brugler notes that he’ll have to improve on his footwork, for example, but evaluators generally view Okudah as a safe top-end choice with the potential to eventually become one of the very best CBs in the NFL.

With all of that said, Okudah probably won’t garner consideration for the top overall pick. At No. 1, the Bengals are widely expected to tap LSU’s Joe Burrow, giving them a signal caller that can usher the club into their latest rebuild. Then, at No. 2, many feel that Chase Young is a slam dunk for the Redskins and new head coach Ron Rivera.

Okudah, who would be a true candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in most drafts, might not have to wait much longer than that. The Lions have the third overall pick and they could certainly use a game-changing corner like Okudah. If the Lions choose to fill multiple defensive holes by trading down, the Chargers and Jaguars are just two of the Top 10 clubs that could consider a top-flight corner just as Okudah. The No. 9 pick – owned by Jacksonville – pretty much represents his floor. And, right now, we’re expecting him to be long gone by that point.

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NFL Draft Rumors: Lions, Giants, Dolphins

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz from Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller:

  • Miller would be positively stunned if the Bengals don’t draft LSU quarterback Joe Burrow No. 1 overall and the Redskins don’t grab Ohio State defensive end Chase Young with the No. 2 pick.
  • With that in mind, Miller feels the draft truly starts at No. 3 overall, where the Lions pick. Sources tell Miller that they’ll look heavily at Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah and Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown. Then again, it’s a prime trade-back spot – teams like the Dolphins, Chargers, and Panthers could move up to land a QB.
  • Unless new head coach Joe Judge sways him in a different direction, Giants GM Dave Gettleman is expected to look at edge-rushers, left tackles, and wide receivers with the No. 4 pick. “He can’t help himself with linemen, so slot your top-rated offensive tackle there,” one scout who previously worked with Gettleman said. Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr. and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas rank among the top tackles in this year’s crop.
  • No team has done more work on Oregon’s Justin Herbert than the Dolphins, who own the No. 5 pick and two more selections later on, Miller writes. The Dolphins will almost certainly go QB here, then shift their attention to offensive tackle, edge-rusher, and running back help.
  • The same source who tipped Miller off to the Cardinals‘ love of Kyler Murray last year says they’re wild about Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. But, internally, they also feel that the offensive line need is too big to overlook.
  • The Raiders, with two picks in the first round, are looking to go defense and wide receiver, Miller hears.
  • The Bills are already nervous about other teams leapfrogging them for wide receivers, Miller hears. The Bills own the No. 22 overall pick and nine total selections in the draft.
  • The Patriots are impossible to read, but none of Miller’s sources believe that they’ll draft a quarterback early on. Tom Brady has vowed to continue playing, but he’ll also explore his options in free agency.

Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah Enters NFL Draft

On Wednesday, Ohio State standout Jeff Okudah announced that he’ll enter the 2020 NFL Draft. Okudah profiles as the best cornerback in this year’s class and could wind up as a top ten selection.

Okudah, a 6’1″, 195-pound junior, tallied three interceptions, 34 tackles, and nine pass breakups last year. He was one of three finalists for the Thorpe Award, which is given to the best defensive back in college football.

It has been an honor to be a part of a brotherhood as strong as the one here at Ohio State,” Okudah wrote on social media. “I hope that during my time here, that I did not only grasp, but embodied what it means to be a Buckeye.”

With Okudah’s departure, the Buckeyes could lose their three best cornerbacks. Damon Arnette – who has a chance at being a Day 2 pick – is graduating. Meanwhile, Shaun Wade could skip his final two seasons of eligibility to go pro, even though he’s rather green.

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