The 49ers' immediate needs are likely the wide receiver and offensive guard positions, but what if Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah is the highest-graded player on San Francisco's board when they pick?
Okudah is a long-armed, 6’1” 205-pound cornerback. Okudah may be the cleanest prospect I’ve seen come out in years. He has size, enough speed (4.48 40), and he was terrific in the scheme the Buckeyes asked him to play in. A very versatile corner that will go out of his way to punch you in the mouth. With his pads of course.
Okudah possesses sticky coverage skills that allow him to play with a confidence rivaled only by Jalen Ramsey himself.
No disrespect to Okudah and the fan club I recently found out he has on Twitter, but I have my questions and concerns about just how elite of a prospect he is. Obviously not too many questions since I have him as my CB2 in a deep cornerback class but, some things I did not get a chance to see. His Big Ten competition on the outside was a bit underwhelming.
Okudah dominated the guys in front of him, but what Big Ten receivers do we talk about heading into the 2020 draft? Who challenged him? Well, there’s K.J. Hamler from Penn State but, he’s a slot receiver, Okudah plays on the outside. There’s also Tyler Johnson from Minnesota. Again, slot receiver. Quintez Cephus from Wisconsin was probably the best of the bunch, but wasn’t much of a vertical threat. He flashed his 4.73 40 yard dash speed at the combine. Finally, in the college football playoffs he had the opportunity to go up against Tee Higgins, the big dog from Clemson.
Higgins caught two passes on Okudah on the first drive -- one where he broke Okudah’s tackle and the other that ended up sidelining him for a majority of the game where he caught the ball over Okudah and the safety while getting his helmet knocked off. His foot was slightly out so the catch was ruled incomplete, but I took note of it.
And my last question, at 4.48 speed -- which is not slow by any means -- can he cover any type of receiver from the outside and slot? When you compare Okudah to the top tier cornerbacks in the NFL who are asked to follow receivers; Ramsey ran 4.41, Stephon Gilmore ran 4.40, and Darius Slay boasted a blistering 4.36. These are guys that teams put a ton of responsibility on. As a top-10 pick, I’d assume Okudah would be asked to do the same. Again, it’s not his fault I have these questions. But, I think they are fair. Maybe Okudah plays in a scheme like he did at Ohio State (like the 49ers) where he can stay on one side and use his terrific press bail abilities and zone eyes to make plays.
I believe Jeffrey Okudah would be a terrific fit for the 49ers, but will he be there at 13? Some mock drafts have him going as high as third overall to the Detroit Lions. But with a star-studded offensive tackle group and blue-chip receivers all projected to go in the top 13 picks, anything can happen. Just a few years ago cornerback Marshon Lattimore was mocked as high as second overall to the 49ers but to everyone’s surprise, he “fell” to the New Orleans Saints at pick No. 11.
It’s been a while since the 49ers had a shot at a blue-chip talented cornerback. If Jerry Jeudy is gone and one of these cornerbacks are sitting at 13, don’t be surprised if their name gets called.
Media courtesy Paul Sancya/Associated Press