Falcons Breakout Candidates: Jeff Okudah

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The Falcons added a number of new players this offseason, mostly on the defensive side of the ball. Some are established veterans, while others have struggled to realize their full potential and hope Atlanta will prove differently. This continues my series highlighting potential breakout candidates, moving on to Jeff Okudah.

Check out any other parts of the series if you’ve missed them!

Falcons breakout candidates: Jeff Okudah

Jeff Okudah isn’t like the others on this list. None are as high profile as the former third overall pick or have been in the league as long, but that doesn’t change the fact that he could break out in 2023 with the Falcons. Both sides hope a change of scenery is the ingredient to help him realize his full potential.

He was only had for a fifth-round pick, and the Ohio State product isn’t taking this opportunity lightly.

“Fresh starts don’t come around often, so I think when you get them, you’ve got to put your best foot forward, take advantage of them,” Okudah said. “So, that’s what I’ve been trying to do. That’s my mindset every day I step in the building.”

Most of his shortcomings can be attributed to injuries, only appearing in nine games his rookie year, then a torn Achilles kept him out for most of the 2021 season. However, he is coming off the best campaign of his career.

He only logged one interception but notched career-highs in tackles (73), passes defended (7) and most importantly, appeared in 15 games. Even when he was healthy, inconsistencies were the only regular occurrence. Still, Okudah isn’t discouraged by any of that, learning from his past experiences and hopefully using them to turn things around in Atlanta.

“I approach situations with my best foot forward and sometimes things don’t work out how you intend to,” Okudah said. “So, take those lessons and move on and take those lessons and apply them to a new situation — which is here. So, [I’m] excited for this new chapter.”

More likely than not, Okudah will be thrust into a starting role opposite A.J. Terrell. The schematic fit is clear, but the ability to produce is unknown.

“They’re pretty excited about my ability,” Jeff Okudah said, “what I’m able to do in man-to-man, press coverage, and how it’ll complement the scheme.”

Nobody quite knows what the Falcons will do under new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen, but there will be a lot of man coverage, which Okudah thrives in. If the Falcons can get the best out of Okudah, they could’ve potentially found Terrell’s long-term running mate, and it only cost them a measly fifth-round pick.

Photographer: Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire

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