The Lions drafted Okudah third overall in the 2020 NFL Draft but fell out of favor in just three years. The Ohio State standout's size and athletic traits made him a great prospect and Detroit hoped he would be a keystone of their future after trading away star cornerback Darius Slay. Suffice it to say, that didn’t happen.
Okudah played nine games his rookie year, missing the second half of it due to a groin injury. Then, an Achilles injury robbed him of all but one game of his sophomore season. While he was able to play 15 in his third year, tallying 73 combined tackles, seven passes defended and a forced fumble while showing some potential as an aggressive presence on the outside, Detroit was ready to move on.
Jeff Okudah said that there are “no hard feelings” when it comes to his old team, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN. While he did say that it's a natural competitive instinct to circle a homecoming game against your former team, he sees now that the fresh start helped both sides.
“In retrospect, I have to think of it in retrospect, I wouldn’t say I felt indifferent about it, but in retrospect I’m just really glad to be here,” Okudah said, via ESPN. “So I guess you could say it worked well for both sides.”
The Falcons landed Okudah in exchange for a fifth-round pick. The Lions subsequently used that pick to trade up for defensive back Brian Branch. A foot injury has kept Okdauh sidelined for the first two weeks of the 2023 campaign, but he could be able to play after practicing this week. The 24-year-old said to ESPN that he has learned that the response to setbacks, not the attempts to outright prevent them, is the key.
So far, the Falcons are undefeated but clearly have a lot of areas to grow in. The Lions will present them with a tough challenge as they try to improve to 3-0.