The Atlanta Falcons are acquiring some help in the secondary, as they have agreed to trade a fifth-round pick to the Detroit Lions for former first-round pick Jeff Okudah, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones confirms. After three seasons in the Motor City, Okudah gets a fresh start.
The Ohio State product was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He's coming off of his best NFL season, as he recorded 73 combined tackles, seven passes defensed and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown, in 15 games played. Okudah has played in just 25 career games over three years. He played in just one contest in 2021, as he ruptured his Achilles tendon in the season opener.
It's no surprise that Okudah is being traded away, as the writing on the wall became more legible over the course of the offseason. The Lions put an emphasis on the secondary in free agency, signing former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton to a three-year deal, former San Francisco 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to a one-year deal and former Philadelphia Eagles safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to a one-year deal. While Okudah has at the very least one more year remaining on his rookie deal, Detroit is cutting ties.
Let's attempt to grade this trade.
As we stated above, no one should be surprised that Okudah was moved. Detroit gave him a chance, and while he did play in a career-high 15 games in 2022, he still wasn't able to completely avoid injuries. An elbow injury caused him to miss the regular-season finale, and he also missed Detroit's Week 12 matchup against the Buffalo Bills with a concussion. You could make the argument this isn't "terrible" compensation for a player the Lions were going to move on from, but still, this is a former No. 3 overall pick.
Truth be told, the jury is still out on Okudah. If he's the player the Lions knew in 2020 and 2021, then Detroit clearly wins this trade. But the young defensive back showed promise in the early stages of last season. Ultimately, the Lions are admitting they missed on a pick.
This is obviously a flier, but I respect it. Okudah may be a "bust," but it's possible that he just needed a change of scenery. Much like the Lions, the Falcons have been busy this offseason on the defensive side of the ball. Atlanta has added safety Jessie Bates, defensive tackle Calais Campbell, defensive tackle David Onyemata, former Lions cornerback Mike Hughes and now Okudah.
The more additions for the eighth-worst pass defense in the NFL last year, the better. Atlanta has to make a decision on Okudah's fifth-year option by next month, which likely will be declined. We'll see if Arthur Smith and Co. can turn his career around.