In an article I posted last month that focused on some “dark horse” candidates for the Chargers at #6, one of the players included was Ohio State’s Jeffrey Okudah, the uber-athletic cornerback that some believe could be a top-5 corner in the NFL sooner rather than later.
Jeffrey Okudah is the best defensive player not named Chase Young in this draft class. pic.twitter.com/lXKhzJEpat— PFF (@PFF) January 3, 2020
Ohio State University is able to boast about alumni such as the Saints’ Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple, the Browns’ Denzel Ward, and the Texans’ Bradley Roby. It seems like every year there is another defensive back from Columbus that goes in the first round and this year is no different.
The Chargers have much bigger needs than cornerback, most notably at the quarterback spot and multiple positions along the offensive line. But could the Chargers really pass on a blue-chip talent like Okudah if he were to fall?
Back in 2018 when the Chargers were picking at 17, they had no idea that Derwin James would fall that far. Before he did, the pick was expected to be linebacker Tremaine Edmunds or maybe even defensive tackle Taven Bryan. Luckily for the Bolts, neither of those came to fruition.
If three quarterbacks end up going in the first five picks, combined with OSU’s Chase Young and another elite talent, would they be forced to select the top player at a position of need, albeit one that’s a little further down the list?
If you need a little convincing, here’s what Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had to say in a recent article about Okudah:
“The Ramsey comparisons are common among scouts. Both had roles as true freshmen at schools where defensive backs are legendary. Ramsey saw more action in his frosh year at FSU, but Okudah’s quiet leadership and toughness on the field caught eyes in his sophomore season. There aren’t many college cornerbacks with his combination of size—bigger than Ward (5’11”, 190 lbs)—speed, football IQ and smoothness in transitions.
Scouts have noticed; which is why there are Patrick Peterson and Ramsey comparisons.
Following a 2019 class with just one cornerback (Deandre Baker) drafted in Round 1, Okudah has a chance to be a top-three pick, besting his former teammate Ward (2018 No. 4 pick).
”I was there for Ward and Marshon. Okudah is what would happen if you combined their positive traits,” said a former Ohio State assistant coach.”
Take a look at this stat from PFF below:
Jeff Okudah in 2018 & 2019— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 17, 2020
610 Coverage snaps
1 TD allowed pic.twitter.com/DI2XPGGCkX
That’s...pretty insane. If you gave a four-year old 610 shots at a soccer goal with me in the net, there’s a good chance that more than one somehow find their way in.
The Chargers’ cornerback group currently consists of a former second-round pick in Casey Hayward while Desmond King was fifth-round pick after a surprise slide in the 2017 NFL Draft after winning the Jim Thorpe Award the year before. The other two cornerbacks listed on the roster, Michael Davis and Brandon Facyson, were both undrafted free agents who managed to stick with the team after final cuts.
You could also throw in Jaylen Watkins since he can play some slot corner in a pinch but he’s normally a safety and for what it’s worth, he was drafted in the fourth round.
This group isn’t made up of any blue-chip talent. To be fair, they’ve done a great job of performing past expectations for their make-up but that type of overachieving can only take a defense so far. At some point, you need another difference-maker like a Derwin James. Like a Joey Bosa.
Okudah could be that type of pick.