The Jacksonville Jaguars will be able to bolster their cornerback group in the 2023 NFL Draft but that shouldn't stop them from doing due diligence and inquiring about Jeff Okudah, who might potentially be available via trade.
Okudah has tumbled down the Detroit Lions' depth chart after the arrival of Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Mosely, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson and it doesn't look like the Lions will be picking the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.
Rather than being on the hook for $10.67 million in 2023 and $11.5 million next year, the Lions might place the former Ohio State Buckeye on the trade block. Okudah was the third overall selection in the 2020 draft but injuries limited him to just 10 games in his first two seasons. He managed to appear in 15 contests last year but might have a hard time getting significant play in 2023 due to all the players Detriot has and will continue to acquire this offseason.
Mike Fisher of Sports Illustrated says that "a rumor has Detroit trading Okudah to the Los Angeles Rams" and a third-round selection could get a deal done. If that's the case, the Jaguars should get on the phone with Lions general manager Brad Holmes and see how much it would take to acquire the Texas native.
Jeff Okudah could have a fresh start with the Jacksonville Jaguars
Things such as the right scheme and availability have an important role in a player's development. These two factors might have affected Okudah, who has failed to hit his stride in the NFL. Back in 2020, he was one of the top cornerback prospects but injuries and turnover in the Lions' coaching staff might have hindered his growth.
While there's a chance Okudah can move up the depth chart, he could also benefit from a fresh start, a change of scenery, and the Jacksonville Jaguars would provide him with one. A third-round selection, or maybe a fourth seems like a reasonable price for a reclamation project. Then again, the Jaguars would need to clear a few hurdles if they were interested in trading for the fourth-year cornerback.
For starters, his $10.67 million salary might not fit the team's budget, so the Jaguars' brass would need to rework his contract. Also, Okudah has mostly lined up outside and would need to make the switch to nickel, the position he would most likely play in Jacksonville. Last but not least, the Jags might be better off keeping the pick they would need to acquire Okudah and take a cornerback prospect without an extensive injury history.
In the end, Okudah was a first-round pick in the draft for a reason and it wouldn't hurt the Jaguars to explore the possibility of acquiring him. If after doing due diligence, they don't think he's worth the risk, they can simply wait until the draft, which is less than three weeks away, to round out their cornerback group.