USA TODAY names former Ohio State DB as NFL breakout candidate for upcoming season

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Whether or not Ohio State can be named DBU (Defensive Back University) will be debated for years. LSU and Florida like to also claim the distinction, but at the end of the day, the arguing is slanted towards whatever team you have rooting interests in.

Either way though, there’s no denying the fact that OSU has produced a slew of NFL top-tier talent on the back end of the defense. So much so that it doesn’t really feel like an NFL draft without a defensive back that wore scarlet and gray being taken somewhere in the first three days of the draft annually.

One of those guys hasn’t quite panned out yet despite having the skill set to be one of the best in the game. He’s has had to deal with injuries and setbacks that haven’t allowed him to get on the field and show what he can do.

Mike Jones of USA TODAY believes that may come to an end this upcoming NFL season. He published a list of ten breakout candidates (subscription required) for the upcoming year and has this cornerback among the top ten.

NEXT … The former Buckeye that could be an NFL breakout this year

Jeff Okudah, CB, Detroit Lions

Nov 15, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah (30) before the game against the Washington Football Team at Ford Field. Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

What Jones Says

“Hampered by a steep learning curve, injuries and questionable coaching, Okudahdidn’t live up to expectations as the third pick of the 2020 draft. However, brighter days appear ahead. He’s healthy again and has a new defensive coordinator in Aaron Glenn, a former three-time Pro Bowl cornerback who thrived while coaching the New Orleans Saints’ secondary, and new defensive backs coach in Aubrey Pleasant, who had great success developing young cornerbacks with the Rams.”

NEXT … What we say

Jeff Okudah, CB, Detroit Lions – breakout candidate

Former Ohio State DB Jeff Okudah to wear new number with Lions in 2021
Former Ohio State DB Jeff Okudah to wear new number with Lions in 2021

Detroit Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah catches a pass as he warms up before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

What We Say

I would have lost the house on betting that Okudah would make a splash in year one. He has the length, athleticism, work ethic, and more to be a star in the league. However, injury and a bad atmosphere in Detroit have contributed to a slower burn than many expected.

We wouldn’t be shocked at all if Jones is correct on his assessment of Okudah being a breakout player this year. As long as he stays healthy, the tools and skillset he has should translate to the light going on. Often it’s year two when some of these guys start to make a name for themselves, and there’s no reason to think the former first-rounder can’t start to figure things out this season.

NEXT … Rest of the top ten breakout candidates

Mike Jones’ ten NFL breakout candidates

1. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers
2. Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams
3. Rashan Gary, OLB, Green Bay Packers
4. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos
5. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
6. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
7. Jeff Okudah, CB, Detroit Lions
8. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts
9. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins
10. Vita Vea, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

List

Three Buckeyes with top 15 odds for NFL's Comeback Player of The Year

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3 former Buckeyes in top 15 odds for NFL Comeback Player of the Year
3 former Buckeyes in top 15 odds for NFL Comeback Player of the Year

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