The Falcons have completely transformed their defense, and the cornerback room features three new faces. The top end talent may not have changed much from 2022, but the depth sure has. In the latest edition of this series, we take a look at a former third overall pick trying to revive his career in Atlanta.
Check out any other parts of the series if you’ve missed them!
- What does Jessie Bates bring to the Falcons?
- What does Calais Campbell bring to the Falcons?
- What does David Onyemata bring to the Falcons?
- What does Kaden Elliss bring to the Falcons?
- What does Bud Dupree bring to the Falcons?
The Falcons and Jeff Okudah hope a change of scenery is the ingredient to help him realize his full potential.
Atlanta sent Detroit a 2023 fifth-round pick in exchange for the Lions’ third overall pick from the 2020 NFL draft, 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.”
Okudah’s career has mostly been marred by 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. The true test of a man is his resilience. When the chips are stacked against you, what will you do? Okudah isn’t ignoring his checkered career so far in the NFL. He’s using those lessons in hopes of turning 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.”
Now, Jeff Okudah will likely be thrust into a starting role opposite A.J. Terrell, barring some unforeseen circumstances. He hasn’t realized his full potential, primarily due to injuries but also his own inconsistencies.
The schematic fit is clear, but the ability to produce is unknown.
“They’re pretty excited about my ability,” 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.
Photographer: Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire