Draft Prospect Preview | CB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
Height: 6-foot 1
Weight: 200 pounds
School: Ohio State
Jeff Okudah is a cornerback, originally from Grand Prairie, Texas. He attended South Grand Prairie High School and was a five-star recruit. He committed to play football at Ohio State University in January of 2017, where he is majoring in Communications.
Okudah has the size, speed and athleticism to be an elite cornerback in the NFL. He finished the 2019 season with 35 total tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and nine passes defended.
Okudah played well against Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, as he recorded five total tackles and had two passes defended. . According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed a passer rating against of 37.6 during the 2019 season.
Okudah’s standout performance during the 2019 season earned him a couple of honors. He was named a unanimous first-team All-American, along with his Ohio State teammate Chase Young.
Okudah was also a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection. Additionally, he was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, the honor given to the top defensive back in college football every year. (LSU safety Grant Delpit ended up winning that award.)
Okudah has improved each year that he’s been at Ohio State. He played in nine games as a freshman and recorded 17 total tackles. During his sophomore season, Okudah had 32 total tackles and eight passes defended. He’s developed into one of the top defensive backs in the country.
Most of the early mock drafts are projecting Okudah to be a top-five pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Pro Football Focus Lead Draft Analyst Mike Renner has him ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect in the draft.
Okudah will almost certainly be the first cornerback selected in April. There’s a decent chance that the Giants will be able to draft him when they pick at No. 4.
Why He’s a Fit
Giants’ general manager Dave Gettleman has almost completely overhauled his team’s secondary over the last couple of years. With Janoris Jenkins getting released late last season, the Giants are probably going to need to add at least one cornerback to their roster this offseason. If Gettleman wants to take a corner early in the draft, Okudah is clearly the top option.
During his time at Ohio State, Okudah proved that he is an elite cover corner. He has the perfect size for his position. He should have no problem stepping into a starting the role in the NFL next season and guarding some of the best wide receivers in the league.
Considering his size, athleticism, and readiness, Okudah would be a good fit for the Giants. Gettleman used one of his three first-round picks in 2019 to select Deandre Baker, who won the Jim Thorpe Award during his senior season at Georgia.
Baker struggled at times during his rookie season and did not have any interceptions. However, he did improve as the year went on and ended up recording 61 total tackles.
If Okudah does not get picked in the top three and Gettleman decides to drat him, the Giants could have two very talented young cornerbacks in their secondary for the next few years.
Baker and Okudah are both talented enough to be top cover corners in the NFL. The Giants’ defense allowed an average of 264.1 passing yards per game in 2019. There are a few areas of this defense that need to be improved, but Gettleman should definitely put a lot emphasis on the secondary this offseason.
A crucial part of building a strong defense involves adding good cornerbacks, whether it is through the draft or free agency. If the Giants draft him, Okudah would join a secondary that includes Baker, Jabrill Peppers and Corey Ballentine. This particular part of the defense would be in decent shape for 2020 if Gettleman ends up selecting Okudah.