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Why Jeff Okudah Can Be an All-Pro Cornerback

Our Vito Chirco opines on what CB Jeff Okudah would provide to the Lions

Lions fans, it's time to accept the reality that former Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah is going to be Detroit's pick at No. 3 overall.

For starters, longtime Lions franchise passer Matthew Stafford isn't being traded, and career backup quarterback Chase Daniel was picked up to be the No. 2 on the team's QB depth chart.

Translation: Detroit general manager Bob Quinn isn't selecting former Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa to sit behind two other passers.

Then, there's this: Okudah's former Buckeyes teammate Chase Young -- a supremely gifted EDGE defender -- is a generational talent.

Detroit fans everywhere would love to get him at No. 3.

However, the Redskins aren't going to let him slip past them at No. 2 overall.

All of this leads to the fact that unless Quinn & Co. trade back, they're going to take Okudah with their first-round selection.

Would he be the most exciting pick? No.

But does he possess all the necessary skills to develop into a longtime starting NFL cornerback? Absolutely.

And that should matter more than ever before after the Lions' trade of veteran corner Darius Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday.

Sure, the Lions picked up longtime Atlanta Falcons CB Desmond Trufant in free agency to be Slay's replacement.

However, Trufant is nowhere close to the caliber of defensive back that Slay is. And he's not expected to be Detroit's long-term No. 1 CB.

At best, he can be viewed as a stop-gap solution in the defensive backfield of Lions head coach Matt Patricia.

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Enter Okudah, the individual that will become the true successor to Slay in the long term for Patricia & Co.

Okudah has the cover skills that are needed to guard the opposition's No. 1 receiver on a weekly basis -- just as Slay did for many of the seven years (2013-19) he spent in a Lions uniform.

Okudah -- who stands in at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds -- also possesses an uncanny amount of fluidity when changing direction for a player as long and strong as he is.

It's why some draft pundits -- such as Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network -- have pegged Okudah as a future All-Pro.

As Solak writes, 

"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."

Yes, you can reasonably say that Okudah won't be as sexy of a pick as Tagovailoa and Young both would be at No. 3.

However, Okudah -- just like Young -- will be able to contribute to Patricia's defense right away.

And in a year in which Quinn & Co. are being expected to turn the Lions into playoff contenders, taking a player with the pick that can make an immediate impact should be of utmost importance to the organization.


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