• Matt Oehl

Following the Rookies: NFC North Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions had the 3rd pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and spent that pick on Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah. He was easily the best corner in the draft class and the Lions have shown a lot of confidence in him by having him shadow some of the best wide receivers in the NFL. With their 2nd round pick they took Georgie running back D'Andre Swift who I had ranked as the best running back. The Lions came away with 2 players who I had ranked number 1 respectively at their positions.

Jeff Okudah has started in 6 of the games he has played in after missing week 1 due to a hamstring injury. Recording 1 interception, 2 passes defended, 37 tackles (33 solo/ 4 assisted), 2 tackles for loss, while being targeted 45 times, giving up 33 completions for 464 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has matched up on Deandre Hopkins, Davante Adams, and Julio Jones/Calvin Ridley so far in his 1st year. Those are the 3 best wide receivers in the NFL and he has been able to hold his own while also being able to record his only interception while covering Deandre Hopkins. One thing about Okudah that has not translated well from college to the NFL is his line of scrimmage play. Against Davante Adams he was not getting his hands involved at the line of scrimmage. I'm not sure if this is a coaching point of Matt Patricia or if it is Okudah simply not being confident enough to jam at the line of scrimmage this early in the season. As he played more though he was much more aggressive with his jams against Deandre, Julio, and Calvin when playing press. One area of his game that has translated very well is his tackling. Both in run support and the open field Okudah is confident and aggressive in coming up and making sound tackles. He was more than thrown into the firing having to face the caliber of receivers throughout the first half of his rookie season which will hopefully lead to Okudah being able to learn from his mistakes and become a true lockdown corner.

D'Andre Swift has played in all 8 games as a part of the committee the Lions have used with Adrian Peterson, Kerryon Johnson, and Swift. He has been used as a change of pace back and a receiving back. Taking 54 carries for 250 and 4 touchdowns along with 26 receptions on 34 targets for 207 yards and 1 receiving touchdown. He has been a very good piece in this committee where he has been the best receiving back and been able to show off his explosiveness when carrying the ball. His one-cut, get up field type of running has worked well when called upon. He has a very good combination of power and quickness that will be able to handle a much bigger workload in the future. He's shown that he can be a patient runner who finishes every run aggressively, attacking defenders with his already low pad level since he is on the shorter since, and will often catch defenders off guard with how much power he can bring behind his pads. He will be able to handle a 3 down workload if the Lions are willing to give it to him and hopefully that will be as early as next year with Adrian Peterson being on a 1 year contract.

The Lions hit on both of their picks with Okudah and Swift and as they get more experience I believe they both can become stars in the NFL.

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