The Detroit Lions selected Jeff Okudah No. 3 overall in last year's draft believing the Ohio State product would be the type of lockdown cover corner the secondary could lean on. Unfortunately, it didn't work out in his rookie season.
Okudah struggled mightily, looked lost for stretches, got picked apart, and wasn't appropriately utilized by the previous coaching staff. It's not a stretch to suggest Okudah was one of the worst corners in the NFL last year.
As can happen, particularly with corners -- a position difficult to make the transition from college to the pros and thrive immediately -- Okudah is having a much better go of it in his second season. The corner has reportedly stood out during camp as one of the top players on a questionable defense.
Coach Dan Campbell hooted Thursday morning about the progress Okudah has made this offseason.
"Like Okudah, I think he's really starting to come on," Campbell said. "He's playing like, 'Alright, man. I am a bad dude. I dare you to throw it over here.' Which is what we want."
It's notable that Campbell's response wasn't from a direct question regarding the corner. It was amid a larger comment on the secondary as a whole. A reporter didn't tee up the praise for Okudah, it genuinely flowed from the coach without much prompting.
Last season, the Lions' secondary was Atrocious with a capital A, allowing receivers to frolic unhindered and carefree. Okudah's struggles epitomized those issues and underscored a coaching staff unable to put its players in a position to succeed.
With new defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and impressive DBs coach Aubrey Pleasant now in Detroit, the expectations for that glum defensive backfield have risen. If Pleasant swiftly turns around one of the worst secondaries in the NFL -- starting with Okudah -- he'll be in line for a DC job this offseason.
Okudah becoming the "bad dude" that coaxed the Lions to make him a top-5 pick would go a long way to helping turn around one of the worst defenses in the NFL.