Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah is easily the No. 1 cornerback in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah is the best cornerback in the NFL Draft.
That’s what scouts universally said. And that’s what his opponents said.
“Guy is really good. They say he’s a top five guy and I can see why,” Clemson receiver Tee Higgins said at the Scouting Combine. “He’s just a guy that’s real patient, physical, quick, got great hips, I’m excited to see where he lands.”
“Most definitely Jeff Okudah,” Penn State receiver K.J. Hamler said. “Just doing a lot of studying on him, he’s a long guy, fast, very patient with his feet, technician guy, has good speed. I think Jeff Okudah is the best opponent I went against.”
“I would say it was Jeffrey Okudah down at Ohio State,” Wisconsin receiver Quintez Cephus said.
Even Donovan Peoples-Jones from rival Michigan had to acknowledge it was Okudah.
“I think it's big because it kind of goes to show the challenge that I presented to them,” Okudah said during his interview session at the Scouting Combine. “I know a lot of guys who might get a guy that's a kind of raved about a lot and then when you play him you're like, he wasn't as good as I thought he was. So, for those guys to come out there once after the season's over and be like, ‘That guy, I know I had to bring my A game against him,’ I think that's big.”
In 2019, Okudah had three interceptions – the first three of his career – and an additional nine pass breakups in earning unanimous All-American honors. According to Sports Info Solutions, he allowed a catch rate of 39 percent, allowed just one touchdown and yielded a passer rating of merely 46.8. According to Pro Football Focus, Okudah never allowed more than 50 receiving yards in a game over his final two seasons.
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What we like
At 6-foot-1 1/8 and with 32 5/8-inch arms, Okudah is imposing. Of our top 24 cornerback prospects, his arms were the third-longest. On top of that, he ran a 4.48 in the 40 and posted a 41-inch vertical. Never mind all of that for a moment. With absolutely nothing to gain as the obvious top corner in the draft, Okudah decided to do everything at the Scouting Combine. Why, when the risk so clearly outweighed the reward? “It’s kind of like there's risk-reward for everything. For me, it's no different than going out against Tee Higgins all game. It's always going to be risk-reward. You choose if you're going to get the reward or if you're going to get the risk.”
What we don’t like
Not much. He grabbed a bit too much, though he was vastly improved in 2019 (no holding or interference penalties), and he missed eight tackles (18 percent), according to SIS.