As Week 11 approaches, the Detroit Lions are finally healthy in their secondary.
At the cornerback position, that leaves a bit of a logjam for players vying for playing time.
On the outside, there are offseason acquisition Desmond Trufant, blossoming second-year corner Amani Oruwariye, highly-paid slot man Justin Coleman and this year’s No. 3 overall pick in Jeff Okudah.
Despite none of the corners playing particularly great in head coach Matt Patricia’s scheme, there is some talent there -- and someone will subsequently be the odd man out.
Of the four aforementioned individuals, it was Okudah who saw more time on the bench last week.
He saw just 39 percent of the team's defensive snaps, whereas Oruwariye played 61 percent of the time and Trufant and Coleman both were in on over 90 percent of the plays.
For most rookies, limited snaps while learning the ropes isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
For Okudah, however, with him being a top-three selection, expectations are different.
The third overall pick is supposed to be a difference-maker almost immediately, or the dreaded “bust” label begins to float around -- which is undoubtedly very premature.
From a coverage standpoint, Okudah has improved since the start of the season.
"I don't think that I was naive coming in to the fact that the NFL has a lot of great receivers," Okudah said Thursday. "So I think I knew what I was getting myself into coming in. You just take the highs and the lows.
"I've learned a lot of invaluable lessons throughout this whole experience, and I'm really excited to see what these last seven games that we're guaranteed have in store for me as well as the secondary."
Still, Okudah has allowed the fifth-most passing yards in the NFL, and he possesses the second-lowest Pro Football Focus coverage grade among all qualified corners.
Important to note, though, this season hasn’t been easy on rookie defenders as a whole.
One aspect of the game Okudah has excelled in is playing against the run.
His 80.3 run-defense grade is ninth-best at the position in the NFL, and his eight run “stops” are tied for third-most in the league.
Even his missed tackle percentage is above average.
Recency bias tells a different story, however, as he missed two tackles on back-to-back plays against the Washington Football Team.
Overall, he still has been a real aggressive tackler.
Run defense is not why a corner gets drafted No. 3 overall, though.
Unfortunately, Patricia’s scheme doesn’t do the corners many favors.
Plenty of man-to-man defense and not putting an emphasis on the pass rush set the cover men out to dry, at times.
Even former All-Pro Darius Slay had his fair share of struggles in the system, albeit getting his hands on a lot more passes.
This year, Trufant has also had his worst season to date, in terms of his PFF grade -- and by a large margin.
Maybe that’s due to a smaller sample size, stemming from injuries, his age, perhaps the system and/or a little bit of everything.
In short, it’s difficult to gauge or compare Okudah to others in different situations.
It’s fair to say he has been disappointing overall so far, but that doesn’t mean he is a bust by any means, either.
There is still plenty of time and potential for him to live up to his pre-draft hype.
But, a little patience might be required.
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