Jeff Okudah Compared to Other Rookie Cornerbacks
The Detroit Lions drafted cornerback Jeff Okudah No. 3 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Being the first top-three defensive back selected since 1997, expectations were and remain extremely high.
Okudah missed the opening week of the season with a hamstring injury, and was welcomed to the NFL in Week 2 by future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.
Rather unexpectedly, there was a fair share of struggles for the rookie.
With the very limited sample size, it’s very difficult to draw any type of concrete conclusions or to project future success -- not to mention the different situations and scheme each individual is in.
More than a few first-year corners have found some early success in the early goings -- most notably, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive back C.J. Henderson, the second corner selected in the 2020 draft, Chicago Bears second-rounder Jaylon Johnson and Kansas City Chiefs fourth-round selection L'Jarius Sneed.
Sneed already has two interceptions, to go along with a pass breakup.
Henderson has a pick of his own, as well.
Both Johnson and Henderson have four passes defensed.
Among rookie defensive backs, Johnson and Henderson also tout a Pro Football Focus-leading overall grade of 80.3.
Sneed is right behind the two of them with an overall mark of 70.0, according to PFF.
Of those three aforementioned players, only Henderson has allowed a touchdown.
Now, while those first-year corners have started off well, there are plenty of others who are playing more like rookies, including Okudah.
In Week 2, Okudah allowed seven receptions on 10 targets for a whopping 121 yards, with no pass deflections or touchdowns allowed, either.
For his performance, he earned an overall grade of just 28.6 from PFF.
Outside of Okudah and Henderson, the other first-round rookie corners include A.J. Terrell, Damon Arnette, Noah Igbinoghene and Jeff Gladney.
Those four have combined for zero interceptions, just one pass breakup and five touchdowns allowed through the first two weeks of the season.
None of them have even a current passer rating against of better than 143.8.
Remember, a perfect passer rating is 158.3, and at the very least, Okudah’s 110.8 is far from the worst of the first-round rookies.
That’s not to excuse Okudah from a subpar opening performance. But, it does help put into perspective the type of learning curve that can come with the position.
The argument could also be made that Okudah is in one of the worst spots a rookie corner can be in to start his career.
One of the heaviest man-scheme defenses with one of the worst pass rushes creates an extremely difficult task to slow down receivers, especially in a league which caters to the offense.
At this point, stats don’t mean much -- whether good or bad.
At the very least, it would be nice to see some flashes here and there, as to why Okudah was drafted so high.
Just give it some time before making too many judgements, however.
- Jaylon Johnson (80.3)
- C.J. Henderson (80.3)
- L'Jarius Sneed (70.0)
- Kristian Fulton (67.5)
- Kamren Curl (63.4)
- A.J. Terrell (63.4)
- Damon Arnette (57.5)
- Jeff Gladney (48.5)
- Noah Igbinoghene (31.9)
- Jeff Okudah (28.6)
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