Jeff Okudah named most underrated Lions player by Pro Football Focus

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It’s hard to fathom a player barely a year away from being the No. 3 overall pick in a draft winds up with the perception of being underrated, but that is the situation with Jeff Okudah and the Detroit Lions. The analysts at Pro Football Focus seem to understand the strange dynamics at play with Okudah after his first season.

PFF named Okudah the Lions’ representative in their piece listing the most underrated player on each team. After his rocky rookie season, the cornerback has slipped so far down the collective consciousness that he’s gone from lofty draft pick to roster afterthought.

No glimmer of hope can be redeemed from Okudah’s rookie year — if that were the only sample I had to work with, I’d be conjuring optimism out of thin air. However, we know Okudah was an elite college cornerback, and we also know that almost every rookie corner was routinely torched in 2020. The scheme Detroit employed also wasn’t helping anybody, so we have to assume that Okudah is better than the player we saw last season. How much better is the big unknown.

Okudah’s fate is one of the biggest variables for the new-look Lions in 2021. Being fully healthy after his groin surgery and growing from the experience of playing CB in the NFL for a year and learning from his rough debut could indeed make Okudah emerge as the budding star he was expected to be in Detroit one short year ago.