He’s got to keep it going, but Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah is laying the foundation for a long-term commitment from the team.
For two seasons, Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah struggled with injuries and on-field struggles when he did play as a rookie in 2020. This season was shaping up as a make-or-break year for him, with the Lions already facing a decision on his fifth-year option for 2024 next May.
Through three games, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft has stepped up, shutting down DeVonta Smith, Terry McLaurin and Justin Jefferson.
Three games of good play doesn’t erase everything from Okudah’s first two seasons. But being healthy and playing as confidently as he is are two huge steps to realizing his potential. In Week 3, he shadowed Justin Jefferson for a good portion of plays and shut down one of the NFL’s best receivers. That felt like the biggest step yet for Okudah.
Jeff Okudah building foundation to get contract extension from the Lions
Based on his fine start to the season, Dan Graziano of ESPN (subscription required) tabbed Okudah as a sneaky contract extension candidate (h/t to Heavy.com).
It’s early, but Okudah has so far played up to his draft position and could be a sneaky extension candidate next offseason if he keeps it up,” Graziano wrote.
Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks will be another big challenge for Okudah. Seattle has two very good wide receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and Metcalf made it clear this week that he needs to see more before declaring Okudah is a “lock down corner.”
It will be interesting to see if/how much Okudah travels with Metcalf during the game, and how often he’s on an island 1-on-1 against a receiver who’s in a unique class as a physical mismatch.
Okudah hasn’t locked himself into a long-term commitment from the Lions just yet. But he’s definitely off to a good start on that front, with another test coming on Sunday.