Lions Break Mold With Okudah – 'It’s Up To Me To Return That'

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The pressure will be heavy when Jeff Okudah arrives in Detroit.

Not just because the Lions drafted him third overall. Not just because he's be expected to replace Darius Slay. But because he's the highest-drafted corner this century, and the first to go in the top three since fellow Buckeye Shawn Springs went third overall to Seattle in 1997. 

"It’s a crazy feeling being drafted that high," Okudah said in a conference call with local media. "Obviously the Detroit Lions think a lot about me, and it’s up to me to return that and give them all that I have. Go to work every single day with my teammates and be the best player that I can be.”

The best player he can be, by all accounts, is one of the best corners in the NFL. That's what the Lions are hoping for in breaking the mold at the top of the draft. Okudah has been compared frequently to All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey, who happens to be one of the NFL corners he reached out to ahead of the draft. 

“I talked to a lot of guys," he said. "I talked to Jalen Ramsey, Stephon Gilmore, Tyrann Mathieu. Just learning their process, learning things they’ve done earlier that they wish they could have done differently, and just getting a feel of what the NFL’s all about.”

Beyond his obvious talent, Okudah has the tools to thrive in Detroit's defense. He's long, he's physical and he's a maven in the kind of press coverage Matt Patricia loves to employ. He had a passer rating against of 46.8 last season for the Buckeyes.

Asked to name his best asset, he said, “I think it’s just my technique. I try to consider myself a technician. That just what I try to rely on because I know that when everyone’s athleticism fades away, all you're left with is your technique. So I try to sharpen my sword every chance that I can get.”

While it's rare to see corners drafted in the top five, history bodes well for Okudah. In addition to Ramsey, the group this century is comprised of All-Pro Patrick Peterson, Pro-Bowlers Denzel Ward and Terrence Newman and 10-year starter Quentin Jammer.

The Lions believe Okudah can uphold the standard, and Okudah wants to prove them right.