Jeff Okudah Has Successful Trunk Muscle Surgery; Lions still ahead of the future

ALLEN PARK – Jeff Okudah’s season is officially over after he underwent successful trunk muscle surgery on Tuesday. Detroit is expected to place the third overall pick in the injured reserve this week.

With that, Okudah is focused on replaying a really tough rookie season.

“As I begin my rehab I can’t wait to put this behind me and focus on being the best player I can be,” Okudah tweeted.

The Lions had a few viable options with the third overall pick, including quarterbacks like Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert. But with a winning tenure now in place for a regime already in the hot seat, then-CEO Bob Quinn instead chose to fill an immediate need by selecting the prized Ohio state cornerback candidate. .

Cornerbacks are usually not in the top three. In fact, the only other times this has happened in modern draft history was in 1997, when Seattle took Shawn Springs third overall, and 1991, when Atlanta took Bruce Pickins third overall. That’s it. This is the list.

But Okudah was supposed to break the mold as a cornerback prospect. He was a product of that NFL-like system at Ohio State and thrived playing in many reporters, which was Detroit’s favorite coverage program. The Lions also needed help at the cornerback after distributing pro Bowler Darius Slay in Philadelphia, and Okudah was seen as a polite prospect who could plug and play.

Instead, Okudah worked through the growing pains that plague most rookie cornerbacks. He allowed 38 passes on 50 targets, was credited with just two defended passes, caught one pass and gave up a staggering 2.31 yards per snap. This remains the top of the league among the 99 cornerbacks who have played at least 210 cover snaps.

In total, Okudah ranks 118th out of 126 cornerbacks who played enough snaps to qualify according to ProFootballFocus.

Of course, most rookie cornerbacks struggle. It’s a tough position that changes a lot from college to professional play. Each receiver is bigger, stronger, faster. The quarterback is on another planet. Corners can get away with a lot of things that work in college longer, and many are exposed while learning the nuances of the job.

It’s just a tough transition, and Okudah’s was made more difficult with the loss of the offseason program due to the pandemic. His youth and experience were evident when he finally made it to Allen Park for the start of training camp. He was overwhelmed all over the field and spent most of the camp working with the reservists.

Then he suffered a hamstring injury late in the camp that forced him to miss the first game against Chicago. He became healthy enough to adjust the following week in Green Bay, but injuries to Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman forced him to make his NFL debut while taking on a starting role – and had to do it against one of the best receivers in the league. now (Davante Adams) and one of the best quarterbacks of all time (Aaron Rodgers).

It turned out as you would expect. The Packers had Adams lined up against Okudah a lot and Rodgers got to work against the rookie cornerback. Okudah allowed seven assists on 10 targets for 121 yards and a QB rating of 110.8 on pitched balls. He was not credited with any defended pass.

Okudah showed a few flashes of balancing himself as he gained more experience, including intercepting a pass from Kyler Murray that was intended for DeAndre Hopkins in Arizona. But he also wrestled almost every week and was regularly beaten on the court, including a 52-yard pass from former XFL PJ Walker in Carolina. Then he injured his shoulder, left that game and missed two more games because of the injury.

He injured his shoulder last week but still hasn’t played against Green Bay due to a groin injury that has apparently been going on for some time. He has chosen to undergo surgery now and begin to regain his full strength in time to start his second season.

Because his rookie season was definitely not good enough. Not when you consider where he was taken and what was expected. No one at Allen Park is freaking out, as a lot of good cornerbacks have gone through similar struggles, but there is clearly a lot of work to be done if Detroit and Okudah are ever to make the draft investment worth it. Now this work begins.

“I think he’s going to have a bright future,” Bevell said. “It’s been a tough year for him, he’s a bit in and out of the lineup with injuries, and it can happen with a young player. You have to get your body used to that type of season and that type of season that you have in the National Football League. And I think he will only be better for what he’s been through this year.

“I expect him to go for the surgery and come back with a renewed attitude and a renewed effort to get in shape to get ready to play and prepare for this grind.”

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