Jeff Okudah is one of the top prospects going into the 2020 NFL draft. He might be one of the best cornerback prospects coming into the league in a few years too. Okudah was a star at Ohio State. He was a big reason the Buckeyes were so successful in 2019. Now, with the 2020 NFL draft almost here, Okudah is talking a pretty big game. It is for good reason, though.
Jeff Okudah was a top college player at Ohio State
Throughout Jeff Okudah’s college career at Ohio State, he was one of the top cornerbacks in the entire country. After playing in nine games as a freshman in 2017, Okudah has been a wide receiver’s worst nightmare since 2018.
Over the last two years, Okudah did not allow more than 50 receiving yards in a single game, according to Pro Football Focus. He was the only Power Five cornerback who played at least 10 coverage snaps in 15 or more games to do that. Additionally, quarterbacks targeted him 93 times at the outside corner position since 2018 and he only allowed a first down on 20% of those targets. That is over 13 percentage points below the FBS average, according to PFF.
Okudah’s play in 2019, which included three interceptions, nine passes defended, and one forced fumble, earned him unanimous All-American honors. He was also a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award which is given to the nation’s best defensive back. His play was ultimately a big reason the Ohio State Buckeyes started the season 13-0 and earned a spot in the College Football Playoff. It also helped him become a top prospect in this year’s NFL draft.
Okudah should be a top pick in the 2020 NFL draft
Before he had even gotten through his 2019 season, experts raved about Jeff Okudah. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller wrote in October 2019 that he is the best cornerback talent since Jalen Ramsey. Miller wrote, “What makes Okudah so special? It’s partially his athleticism and size, both of which are ideal for an outside cornerback who plays in man coverage. But one Ohio State staffer said he’s ‘the most mature and self-motivated cornerback out of the recent ones’ they’ve had.”
Once Okudah announced he was forgoing his senior season, experts really started to get excited and examine his play. Jacob Infante of USA Today wrote a scouting report about Okudah and said, “Okudah’s fluidity and athleticism is among the best in the 2020 draft. He can change direction on a dime: he might have the most flexible hips in the class. His tape showcases impressive acceleration coming out of his breaks and great closing speed when attacking the ball.”
Additionally, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Okudah going No. 3 to the Detroit Lions in his latest mock draft. He wrote, “After trading away Darius Slay, the Lions brought in Desmond Trufant, but he’s no longer a No. 1 corner. Okudah could be that guy, and he’d instantly help the league’s last-ranked pass defense.”
Okudah will almost definitely go in the top five of this year’s draft but he could even go in the top three.
Talking a big game
“For me, I try to take bits and pieces from different guys that have came in the league,” Okudah said. “So, I’m always looking at the top corners in the game. (Richard) Sherman, I like his route recognition, Stephon Gilmore’s technique that he plays with. Patrick Peterson, I love his ball skills. So, I try to take little bits and pieces and model my game like that … It’s hours of film study, and just reaching out to them, trying to pick their brains a little bit, asking them to just drop a nugget on me every now and then.”Jeff Okudah
So, essentially, Okudah is saying that he is trying to be a combination of the greatest cornerbacks in the entire NFL. That is a pretty big goal, but exactly what NFL teams want to hear.
Jeff Okudah already has the talent and the resume, and he has already set lofty goals for himself. Now, he is revealing that he does his homework by watching hours of film. He sounds like a guy that is mature beyond his years and is someone that every NFL team should want. We’ll see how high he gets drafted when the draft takes place on April 23.