Jeffrey Okudah showed a step in his development as an NFL Draft prospect this past season. He showed traits that translate to the NFL. He has the physical tools to succeed and he improved his mental game throughout the season. He was the best cornerback in the Big Ten. Playing his best ball in the final game of the season, Okudah showed a ton in Ohio State’s game versus Washington.
Okudah has everything needed to be a lock-down corner, with both athletic ability and size. He has a mentality to be the best that I look for in a cornerback. However, he lacks refined technique and suffers from mental lapses. In order for Okudah to develop into the first round NFL Draft prospect he has the potential to be, he must refine his game.
Games Watched: Washington, Michigan, Michigan State
Size / Length
Standing at 6’0 and weighing at 200 lbs, Okudah has solid size for the position, but he also has long arms and knows how to use them. He does a great job of extending when the ball’s in the air, using his long arms to force incompletions. Here, he uses his length to breakup the pass before the ball gets to the receiver:
— CoachJay (@CoachJa85037088) January 1, 2019
With his long strides and natural explosion, Okudah is a plus athlete. He has good speed in turn-and-run scenarios. His feet are quick in short ranges, and it’s helped him mirror opposing receivers both inside and out. He’s one of the best athletes in the NFL Draft and it shows.
Okudah has the best closing speed I’ve seen from an NFL Draft prospect, maybe ever. He shows an explosion when the ball’s traveling towards his man, and has the alpha mentality to go get it. This shows up all over his tape, and is a great sign that he’ll be able to succeed as a boundary corner in the NFL.
Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah should have a massive season. Love his ability in zone. Great closing speed to break on the ball. A name to watch for the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/MYmGw052UQ
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) May 3, 2019
Okudah is a willing tackler, but has a tendency to take plays off whens he’s not near. It’s a common thing to see in college corners. They don’t think they need to try on the other side of the field. It’s not the end of the world; 90 percent of draft prospects play like this anyways. However, in the NFL, it can be what separates the good from the great.
Okudah’s technique isn’t bad per say; it’s just incomplete. He was rarely asked to play press coverage, and it shows. He leans when he punches, but he shows aggression. He has excellent length, and with the right coaching, projects well in press. In zone, he uses his eyes to see where the the throw is going, and explodes on the ball with his elite closing speed.
It wasn’t often, which is encouraging, but Okudah did show a lack of awareness on a couple plays. It most commonly happened when his eyes were too focused on the quarterback and a receiver would sneak behind him. I’m sure both he and his coaches have noticed this and are working to solve it.
Okudah has ball skills — he shows it in his pass deflections — but he’s never recorded an interception. It’ll be hard for an NFL team to justify spending a high draft pick on a defensive back who’s never picked off a pass.
Jeffrey Okudah will be the star of Ohio State’s secondary this year. The biggest questions are, can he clean up his game? And if he does, how good will he actually become? He was an above-average cornerback this past year, but this year, he’ll look to be a superstar. The next in a long line, Okudah could be the next Buckeyes first-round cornerback.
With all the requisite physical tools and a true number one mentality, Okudah is ready for the attention he’s gonna get. However, can he live up to expectations? He’ll need to improve, and he’ll also need to add some interceptions to his resume. The ceiling is immense; how close he gets to it this season will dictate where he gets drafted.