Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press
Published 6:00 a.m. ET June 18, 2020 | Updated 11:37 a.m. ET June 18, 2020
A look at the players the Detroit Lions added in the 2020 NFL draft.
Detroit Free Press
At this point, there are so many stories about Jeff Okudah’s obsessive devotion to football and the lengths he has gone to in the pursuit of perfecting his craft that they are starting to take on an almost mythological feel.
Like rumors surrounding Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster or Darko Milicic’s talent, stories of Okudah’s maniacal learning are no less wondrous and nearly unbelievable.
Before the Detroit Lions made him the No. 3 overall pick in April’s draft, Okudah played at Ohio State, where he pestered one coach about watching film — while the coach was moving into his new house on a Saturday morning.
The cornerback relocated treatment sessions from the training room to his coach’s office in order to watch even more film. Before he was drafted, he reached out on social media to some of the NFL’s top cornerbacks to pick their brains about the NFL.
On Wednesday, Lions defensive coordinator Cory Undlin became the latest to tell his tale about Okudah’s unrelenting passion for football.
“He’s driven like few men I’ve been around in this profession,” Undlin said during a Zoom chat with reporters. “I know that and I can tell that, albeit on a Zoom call. The guy, he’s nonstop to the point where it’s like, ‘Jeff, can we talk about something — can we not talk about football for like five minutes? Do you do anything else? Like what are we doing?’
“That’s how he’s wired and I look forward obviously to getting him out there and we’ll see what it looks like when he’s on the grass.”
Undlin wouldn’t share what interests Okudah might have, if any, outside of football.
“I’ll leave his interests other than football alone,” he said. “I’ll let him tell you what those are. He’s an incredible kid.”
A dogged and determined attitude should serve any player in his pursuit of improvement. But rookies can be different, because they go through nearly 18 straight months of nonstop football that starts with the fall camp of their final college season, into the combine and draft visits, and then their first NFL season.
But Undlin isn’t concerned about Okudah wearing out from too much football — or at least from thinking and talking too much about football.
“Am I worried about the kid getting burnt out? No. No, not whatsoever,” he said. “Now that rookie wall, when you hit Week 10 or Week 11, that’s a different ballgame. But as far as mentally, I’m not worried about him getting burnt out at all, no.”
Undlin said he has been completely impressed with Okudah — even beyond his thoughts and actions about the sport.
“With this Zoom thing, I’ve spent a lot of time with Jeff,” he said. “I think the people in Detroit and Lions fans are really, really going to like him, not only as a player but as a person.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.