Sometimes, NFL players just need a change of scenery. That’s what Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski argued for new Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jeff Okudah.
Sobleski included Okudah on a list of nine players who are primed for breakout seasons on new teams during the 2023 season.
“The Detroit Lions chose Okudah with the third overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Soft-tissue injuries derailed the defensive back’s rookie season,” Sobleski wrote. “Okudah suffered a torn Achilles tendon at the start of his sophomore campaign. He finally got onto the field at a full-time basis last season and proved to be inconsistent.
“The Falcons took a chance on Okudah’s untapped potential by trading a fifth-round pick to acquire the corner.
“Unlike in Detroit, expectations aren’t sky high. Okudah doesn’t need to be the team’s No. 1 corner. He can play opposite A.J. Terrell and grow into his role as part of the Falcons’ defense.”
If the 2020 No. 3 overall pick experiences a breakout season for the Falcons, Atlanta might have one of the most improved secondaries in the NFL.
As Sobleski detailed, the Falcons already have A.J. Terrell at cornerback. He was also a first-round pick in 2020. With Okudah, Atlanta’s two starting cornerbacks were first-round talents just three years ago. Both are also still just 24.
The Falcons signed safety Jessie Bates in free agency as well. Bates was a second-round pick in 2018 and is only 26 years old.
Furthermore, Atlanta has other quality secondary players in Mike Hughes, another free-agent signing, and Richie Grant. With that group, Sobleski argued Okudah won’t feel much pressure to perform and could slide in comfortably as the team’s No. 2 corner.
Should Okudah break out, acquiring the cornerback might be Terry Fontenot’s top decision during an offseason filled with quality moves for the general manager. The Falcons only traded the No. 159 overall selection for Okudah, and the Lions are paying for more than half of his $10.6 million 2023 salary.