Summary: Ohio State has been a factory of NFL talent, and that has especially been the case with the recruiting classes produced by Urban Meyer. During the 2016 season, the Buckeyes had a standout NFL secondary with three first-round talents at cornerback, Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Denzel Ward, and one at free safety, Malik Hooker. After that group moved on to the NFL over two drafts, a new group of corner talent took over for the Buckeyes, with Okudah as the star of the secondary.
Following Ward's departure for the NFL, Okudah became Ohio State's No. 1 cornerback in 2018 and had an excellent sophomore season. In 2018, he had 32 tackles with eight breakups.
As a junior, Okudah took his game to another level and was the best defensive back in college football during the 2019 season. He was a shut down down corner that dominated wide receivers. Importantly, his ball production is vastly improved over his 2018 season and he totaled 35 tackles with nine passes broken up and three interceptions on the year.
The only game where he had some issues was with Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. Against the Badgers, Okudah made some superb plays in coverage, but also was beaten for a would-be touchdown and was fortunate that his safety broke up the pass in the end zone.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Okudah ran well in the 40 with a time of 4.48 seconds. However, teams have heard he's run faster on other occasions and he probably is faster than that. Sources felt Okudah struggled in the field drills at combine before his day ended early after a hard landing with his head hitting the turf. Considering his tape and body of work, that day looks like the anomaly.
Okudah is a well-rounded prospect who does everything well. He is very good at preventing separation as he can vertically stay with speed wideouts and run the routes with receivers. Okudah has the size and physicality to match up with big wideouts and the speed to defend the vertical threats. Given his aggressive and physical style of play, Okudah sits on routes and really challenges receivers to run by him.
Downfield, Okudah is a tough defender, using his length to cover up wideouts, speed to run with them, and a burst for recoverability. He can jam receivers with the ability turn and run with them downfield. Over the past couple of seasons, he did a very good job of slapping passes away, and as a junior, he showed improvement to produce some interceptions. Okudah is a good tackler and willing run defender who does not hesitate to close on a ball-carrier to make a hit in space.
For the NFL, Okudah looks like a future No. 1 cornerback and Pro Bowler. During his career, he could be one of the top corners in the NFL and capable of limiting elite No. 1 receivers. Okudah is worthy of being a high first-round pick, and this analyst thinks Okudah is a better prospect entering the NFL than Jalen Ramsey (2016) and Denzel Ward (2018) were, and they were both top-five picks in their draft classes.
Player Comparison: Marshon Lattimore. Okudah reminds me of Lattimore at Ohio State. They have similar skill sets and almost identical measurements. In the NFL, I could see Okudah being a cornerback comparable to Lattimore.