2020 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Jeffrey Okudah

January 16, 2020 4:00 PM EST

Jeffrey Okudah Scouting Report picture

School: Ohio State

Height: 6'1"

Weight: 200

Eligibility: JR

Uniform: #1

Position: Cornerback

Evaluated by: Austin Smith
January 16, 2020

Prospect Overview

Ohio State has been a factory for defensive backs, and Okudah might be one of the better ones we've seen in a while for the Buckeyes. The junior out of Grand Prairie, Texas, was one of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school, and found is way on to the field as a freshman before getting into the defensive back rotation as a sophomore. Because the Buckeyes have had such a plethora of talent, Okudah was one of four corners who rotated in and out in his second year but still managed to collect 32 tackles and deflect eight passes.

Jeffrey Okudah Scouting Report image 1

However, his junior year saw him lock down the left cornerback position, and while opponents were sometimes hesitant to test him, Okudah still deflected nine more passes as well as intercepting the first three of his career. His 2019 campaign also garnered him a spot on the Walter Camp All-American Team, and Okudah was also named a Thorpe Award Finalist for the nation's top defensive back. It was a year that not only saw him live up to the hype from when he was coming out of high school but also establish himself as the top cornerback on many draft boards.


Any time a player gets labeled the top corner in a class, he must have good feet, and that is the case with Okudah. His feet are so quick and light, and that paired with the balance he plays with keep him prepared to spring into action once he diagnoses the route. That is an equally-impressive trait for Okudah. His eyes are tied to his feet, and it takes very little time for his feet to get the message. Also, Okudah's ability to quickly accelerate to full speed mixed with awareness makes him dangerous, whether in zone or off coverage. He keeps good balance, and as I said, there is very little layover between him seeing it and springing into action.

Jeffrey Okudah Scouting Report image 2

Okudah also does a terrific job when pairing with other defenders against combination routes. He reads his key, and without hesitation, jumps the route he's responsible for, leaving little time for the receiver to gain separation. Also, in the tape I've watched, I've yet to see a screen to the perimeter gain significant yardage on his side of the field. Make no mistake, he won't be winning any praise for his technique as a tackler, but he is willing and aggressive in that area.

It may seem like I'm continuing to hit on the same points, but it's important to understand that Okudah is so highly-touted because multiple factors go into his success. Yes, the quick feet, balance, awareness, and acceleration are exceptional, but it would be a mistake for not crediting his footwork. The steps are minimal in and out of his breaks, and his positioning usually assists him in his coverage. Okudah is also subtle with his hands and rarely gets grabby in coverage. He trusts his abilities for the most part, and it's little things like these traits that take him from good to great.

Areas for Improvement

Strength is going to be the biggest issue for Okudah, especially in his core. He doesn't always play through his opponents, whether tackling or covering, and it can lead to big plays. Large receivers have had success against him on 50-50 balls because they are strong enough to play through the incidental contact. Okudah has to gain that strength to do the same thing. It's one of the traits that make Jalen Ramsey the player he's been since entering the league. Also, if bigger players get across his face on possession routes, Okudah is more likely to try and go around them than play through them. I'm not talking about interfering with a receiver, rather meeting the ball at the receiver with contact and violent hands working to jar the pigskin loose.

Jeffrey Okudah Scouting Report image 3

As far as Okudah's tackling is concerned, he is willing, but like most corners, the technique just isn't consistent. More often than not, he delivers contact but his arms don't come with it to wrap up the ball carrier. There are instances when Okudah will show good form, but it's usually with an unexpecting opponent. I'd also like to see him do better with his hands when he is walked up to the line of scrimmage. Most often, he doesn't even bother with an attempt to jam his opponent, but when Okudah does, I don't see a confident effort. It honestly puts him out of position more than it impedes the receiver. However, Okudah is much more effective when he is patient and keeps it simple with a one-hand shot to the shoulder after he has gotten a release. I'd be surprised if that isn't his game plan until he adds more strength and is more confident in his ability to press off the line. At six feet, one inch, and nearly 200 pounds, Okudah has the size teams want at the position. Still, if he can add the requisite strength to fill out that frame, it could make him a special player for a long time in the NFL.

Draft Stock

Okudah is a competitor, and at times he does get chatty, but I have yet to see it affect his play. Another admiral trait is his work ethic while he was more of a rotational corner. Okudah has only been a true starter for a year, having rotated with Kendall Sheffield quite a bit in 2018. Still, he played his role with confidence, and when his number was called, he was chomping at the bit. Not every player responds well to sharing a role or coming off the bench, but Okudah not only stay prepared, but he pushed himself to get better. His play on the field has him locked into being a first-round pick, but it's little details like those that make a difference when teams are discussing the top players in this draft. I see him as a top-10 selection heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, and it wouldn't shock me one bit if he were gone before we got to pick five.

Player Comparison

I have to say, Delpit isn't an easy player to draw comparisons to, but for those throwing out names like Tyrann Mathieu and Jamal Adams, I'm going to have to disagree. Adams had an enforcer mentality, and his intensity was ramped up from the second he stepped between the lines until the final second ticked away. While Delpit is a passionate player and isn't afraid of contact, the only real comparison between the two is the college in which they played. Mathieu had the kind of versatility that Delpit possesses but their size, and how they used it to sustain success, couldn't be more different. I will say his versatile, do-it-all skillset does remind me of Minkah Fitzpatrick coming out of Alabama. Fitzpatrick played the "star" position for a good portion of his career, and that position is predicated on versatility. Based on offensive sets, the "star" can take on the role of a nickel corner, a box safety or even a linebacker. They are also a threat to come after the quarterback. I wouldn't go so far as to say LSU has a similar position, but they put Delpit in a similar role quite often, and that is where his best tape comes through. Also, like Fitzpatrick, he is a bit on the slender side to be a "box" safety in the NFL, which is where those skills fit best.

Games Evaluated

vs. Penn State (9-29-18)
vs. Michigan State (11-10-18)
vs. Michigan (11-24-18)
vs. Washington (1-1-19)
vs. Nebraska (9-28-19)
vs. Michigan (11-30-19)
vs. Clemson (12-28-19)

Notes from Film

  • Feet are exceptionally quick and shoot into action the second the receiver moves. Watching him give ground in his backpedal really highlights how light his feet are and it allows him to stay ready to break on a route or flip his hips and go.
  • Does an outstanding job of flipping his hips an retreating when he is bluffing that he will press and walked up to the line of scrimmage. I knew he had loose hips that allow him to turn on balance and get going in a hurry, but it still impresses me every time I watch it.
  • There are times when he gets on a receiver’s hip and smoothers him, but also where he allows too much space. Separation is a defensive backs nemesis, not just because of the pass but also the route. When you get on a receiver’s hip, you hinder him from getting up to full speed. You bang arms with him throughout the process of the route which means no separation and a lot of times, less balance as well. When a receiver is off balance, it means more steps to get in and out of his breaks. It also means cuts are less crisp, and it throws off the timing of the route. Bottom line is I’d like to see him do it more consistently, and he is clearly capable of that.
  • I don’t know if pressing receivers off the line of scrimmage will ever be something he does well, but he has a good understanding of how to be affective with a single-hand jam. He allows the receiver to commit to his release, then gives a nice shot to the correct shoulder. He shows good balance through this contact, and pounces on the receiver’s hip from there. Some of his best coverage comes when he uses that single-hand jam.
  • He really looks comfortable playing in off coverage. It’s almost like watching a boxer with his right hand cocked, just waiting for the slightest sign for an opening. He stays on his toes, and when he sees the receiver break down, he sticks that back foot in the ground and springs into action with incredible acceleration.
  • He does appear to be an aggressive tackler, although his form is what you’d expect from a corner. He is often too high, and lunges to deliver an initial blow as opposed to playing through the opponent and wrapping up. He does wrap up most of the time, but it’s usually while receiving the contact as opposed to delivering it. That makes for a less desirable result. However, what I mean by aggressive is he comes up as opposed to hanging back. Whether the tackle attempt is successful or not, it will slow the player down for the rest of the defense to come and finish, and he makes sure that his attempt is closer to the line of scrimmage than waiting back.
  • Has experience as a gunner on the punt team, and looks to be a capable option there if needed.
  • Love his versatility in coverage. In zone, he reacts quickly once he diagnoses the play, and I haven’t seen many instances where he’s blown a coverage by reading wrong. His initial explosion helps him cover a lot of ground as well. On the other hand, his overall athleticism makes him a tough guy to beat in man coverage. He gets on hips quickly in the route, and I haven’t seen him get to grabby which is a tribute to his confidence in his feet and acceleration.
  • Shows very good awareness out of twins and bunch formations switching receivers. He makes his decision quick and without hesitation, giving a very narrow window for separation before he’s caught up and gotten in position to cover.
  • Against Michigan and Clemson, he struggled with bigger receivers and I think it’s because he doesn’t have the core strength to play through them. On deep routes, the mutual contact put him off balance to where he couldn’t elevate fully. On in-breaking routes, he didn’t show the confidence to play through his opponent, choosing instead to try and play around them which open the door for them to take advantage of their frame and length. If he can continue to get stronger (especially in his core), I think this won’t be near as much of an issue.
  • There’s just no denying his ability to accelerate when he commits. He gets to full speed very quickly, and it’s been noticeable in a variety of ways.
  • Would like to see him get better at tracking the ball. Doesn’t seem to high-point it well and his ball-skills as a whole aren’t anything impressive. Doesn’t appear to be comfortable extending his hands to the ball either. Quarterbacks aren’t always going to hit him in the hands. The corners that get a lot of picks turn into receivers once the ball is in the air and they are in good position.
  • He does have a knack for ripping at the ball immediately after the receiver has corralled it. The Clemson game was a good example on the controversial incomplete pass that negated a defensive touchdown but there are other examples like the Michigan game in the back of the end zone where he was able to get a hand in, and the combination of that and contact from a safety took a touchdown away.
  • Does appear to diagnose routes quickly, which makes him that much tougher to attack as a quarterback.
  • You can tell he loves to compete. Lot of passion and even some jawing on occasion.

    Scouting Video Courtesy of Sick EditzHD

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