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DETROIT LIONS SELECT CB JEFF OKUDAH WITH THEIR FIRST-ROUND PICK

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DETROIT LIONS SELECT CB JEFF OKUDAH WITH THEIR FIRST-ROUND PICK (#3 OVERALL) OF THE 2020 NFL DRAFT

The Detroit Lions selected CB Jeff Okudah from Ohio State University with their first-round pick (3rd overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft.

LIONS HEAD COACH MATT PATRICIA ON WJBK-FOX 2 VIA ZOOM
On what stands out to him about the Lions’ third-overall selection CB Jeff Okudah: “Yeah, he’s got a great skillset for the corner position. One thing that was really easy for us to see, Jeff Hafley was his coach last year, the way that he coaches corners, very similar to the style that we play, really trusts the techniques that he teaches and coaches with. And myself, Cory Undlin, Bob (Quinn,) the scouts, the defensive staff, when we all looked at him, you could really kind of see how that would really work in our system. He’s very aggressive at the line of scrimmage. He’ll play with his hands. He’ll stay square. He’s patient. There’s not a lot of panic down field on some of the shots, really good in transition, has good makeup speed. Just really overall, hard-working, tough kid, loves to tackle and really just loves the game. He loves to work at the game. Loves to just study every single week. He was outstanding with his recall on his opponents and things like that. Just knew that we had a kid that we thought would be a really good player for us.”

On CB Jeff Okudah’s size and potentially being a great scheme fit for Detroit’s defense: “Yeah, I mean, certainly – and I love exactly how you expressed that right there. You’ve got to earn it at this level, certainly all the way through. There’s no doubt. We’ll see when he gets up here. I do know that he definitely will step up to a challenge and he’ll try to go out and compete with everybody that’s out on that field. That’s really all you can ask for, you want. But certainly, the skillset is something that we feel transcends well for us.”

On if nothing made sense in the end regarding a trading down scenario from the third-overall pick: “Yeah, in the end we thought we did what was right in the moment and we’ll just kind of leave that be at that. Certainly we’re very excited about getting Jeff (Okudah) on board and really just looking forward to getting going as soon as we can.”

LIONS EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER BOB QUINN ZOOM CONFERENCE CALL
Opening Statement: “Appreciate everybody sticking with us late tonight. First off, (I’ll) talk about Jeff Okudah, our first-round pick at No. 3. Really felt fortunate to take him, really a very, very well-rounded corner with very good length, good speed, very good coverage ability, great tackler, really complete corner in our eyes, in our opinion. Corners come in all shapes and sizes, and he kind of fits the mold of a top-flight corner that can cover big guys, he can cover small guys, he can support the run. He plays the ball well, very well, in the air. He’s instinctive. He’s very much a student of the game. We got very comfortable with that through the process that we had with him dating back to the Combine. It was the first time we met with him in person. Obviously a lot of the work on him came through a virtual setting. So we did have a Zoom conference with him a couple weeks back, and I think our coaches had a separate one after the fact as well. So really happy that he was there, excited to add him to the team, and with that, I’ll open it up for questions.”

On if he was surprised that the trade market didn’t materialize: “Obviously I know that’s a topic of conversation that everyone’s going to ask. I’ll just give you exactly what happened: We had a lot of conversations. We never got a firm offer. No team put anything on the table. I had multiple conversations with multiple teams. They were kind of fishing around, and we were open for business – as you guys know – and nothing was ever put in front of us to evaluate. I’ve told you guys a lot that it takes two teams to make a trade. So unfortunately, we were open and willing to move back a little bit and felt like we had a group of players that we really liked, that we could have gotten if we moved back, but we stood pat, took the best player that we felt could help our team, and we’re excited to have Jeff.”

On if he could explain why the trade market wasn’t there: “I don’t have a good explanation. I think that’s probably more of a question for the teams that were behind us. I don’t know. We had our normal pre-draft conversations with all the teams, and the few teams that showed a little bit of interest just ultimately – you know as we got through today, just for whatever reason decided to stay put. I think looking back, they probably got the guys they probably would’ve taken at three. So it takes two teams to tango. Listen – we feel good about it. There was a lot of talk about trade because there really hasn’t been a lot to talk about, right? So there’s been a lot of chatter about quarterback this, offensive line that, for the teams that are behind us. Ultimately looking back at it, it really didn’t mean much because nothing happened. But like I said, really happy with how it turned out for us. We got the player we wanted too.”

On if he could’ve created more of a market to potentially entice a trade: “I don’t know. We evaluate all the positions the same. The guys that are highly-rated across the board at any position – I never say, ‘We’re not going to evaluate a position.’ So we evaluated quarterbacks. We have a good quarterback. I feel great with Matthew Stafford; I think I’ve said that over and over again. Listen, teams do a very in-depth analysis of your roster and your needs and your contract situations. Not to put down the pundits out there, but the teams know better than the people who are reporting on it, about what teams need and what teams can actually do. So I think we did the best we can. It’s pretty interesting because the two teams that are behind us directly were the Giants and the Dolphins, and I’m very close friends with both their head coaches. I worked with them for a very long time. I think they know myself, they know Matt (Patricia, head coach), and obviously we don’t share our inner secrets, but they can look at our team and can evaluate our needs and can look at our contracts. That’s just kind of how it went.”

On how far back he would have felt comfortable trading in the first round: “That’s a hypothetical question because you’ve got to tell me what was the return on the investment. I could go back 20 spots if they are going to give me their entire draft, right? But it all depends on what’s coming back in return.”

On the thing that puts him over the top in selecting CB Jeff Okudah opposed to Panthers DT Derrick Brown and Cardinals LB Isaiah Simmons: “I’m not going to get into a lot of specifics about the players we didn’t take. I don’t think that’s fair to those guys. We like those players at the top of the Draft. (We) were able to get down and see both of those pro days of the two players you mentioned and spend time with both of them, so that was great. Felt good, I think they are going to have good NFL careers. We just felt like total package, what we were looking for, what we were trying to add our defense that Jeff was the right pick for us. So, it’s not one little thing or one big thing, it’s the whole picture. You’re getting the whole player and you’re getting the whole person. (Isaiah) Simmons and (Derrick) Brown are great people and great players too, so it was a hard decision. Those guys were all up there in the conversation for sure. Just felt really comfortable in the end with the decision we made.”

On if there was any point when he looked to add another player in the first round: “Yeah, we did have a couple conversations, truthfully. So, I don’t know, where did we start, maybe at (pick) 25, 26, somewhere in there. Made a couple calls, some teams wanted to move back, some teams didn’t. Ultimately, decided to stay put and felt good with the players we have on the board and the position we’re in picking at (pick) 35, the third pick in the second round. I think there will be a number of players there that we feel good about. Looking at the board tonight, when the Draft ended, we feel good about a good number of players and even this scenario of moving back, too because the top of the second round has been kind of probably the new first round, right. Teams get to kind of reset their boards and there’s a lot of action in the first five picks of the second round. So, we’ll see what happens. We’re going to get a good night’s rest here. It’s a little bit late. We’ll regroup as a staff mid-morning and kind of go through those scenarios and be ready to go at 7 o’clock tomorrow.”

On how he feels about the pass rush of the team: “Pass rush is always something you think about. It doesn’t matter who you have on the roster. You could have Lawrence Taylor, and you’re still going to want more pass rush. It’s something that’s important. It’s something we’ll look at. There are guys on the board that we like at all levels of the Draft that fit in the pass rush category. It’s something we look at every year and we’ll continue to do that.”

On how much discussion there was at drafting Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa: “Wow, that’s a strong question. You just went right after it. That’s good. We evaluated Tua. We had a really good meeting with him. This guy is a very energetic guy and a charismatic guy in the interview process. Talked to coach (Nick) Saban about him a lot. Just called down, this year we probably made more calls to college coaches just because we have more time to do that. So, we talked to Nick about all their guys down there. They love him down there, think he’s an excellent college quarterback, going to be an excellent pro quarterback. The medical was something that was evaluated as well and those are all the things you have to put into the equation. So, to answer your question we evaluated everybody from top to bottom and Tua was no different.”

On if having multiple picks throughout the rest of the Draft provides leverage: “Good point. Obviously, when you have multiple thirds and multiple fifths, you can move around the board. It gives you more flexibility, right? So, those extra picks we picked up in the Philly trade, we’ll look at that and kind of see where that takes us – whether that’s things in the second or third round that you can get extra picks or you can move up and go ahead and attack a guy that you have on your board. But yes, it’s hard to do when you don’t have a lot of picks. But this year, we do have a couple extra, so you try to use those wisely, whether it’s the totality of the depth of the Draft and you sit there and just pick them, or you kind of use one or two of them and move up and attack a player.”

On if CB Jeff Okudah had a certain characteristic that made him better suited to adjust to the uncertainty of the NFL related to this offseason: “That’s a good question. I think that’s something that we’re not the only team kind of thinking that way and trying to look at, ‘OK, well listen, the offseason program’s going to be limited, we’ll see what training camp looks like when we get there.’ So, what guys are really ready to step in? You’ve got to look at a guy that – we use the word ‘potential,’ we use the word, ‘upside,’ in our business a lot. That’s why we pay our coaches to teach these guys and develop them and get that upside out of them. Well, it’s kind of hard when you have the coaches trying to teach these guys remotely how to do technique and things like that. So, in Jeff’s case, you see him play a lot of press coverage. You see him at the line of scrimmage, you see him use his hands. So, a lot of stuff that we do defensively, you can just pop on Ohio State and just watch it and it’s very similar. It’s not exactly the same, but he was very well coached there. Jeff Hafley, who’s the head coach at Boston College now, was their defensive coordinator last year, he came in from the San Francisco 49ers – so he’s got an NFL pedigree. Myself and coach (Matt Patricia) know Jeff very well. He’s a guy we leaned on in this process because Ohio State had so many defensive prospects. So, that was a guy that we talked to at depth about all of them. We feel that the skillset matches into being able to come in – and we expect him to come in and play right away and help us win.”

On his thoughts on the Packers trading up to select QB Jordan Love: “Yeah, I noticed that. Interesting, right? Interesting trade. I haven’t really put a lot of thought into it, I just saw it kind of come through as it happened there. We were trying to figure out what they were taking. Quarterback, we had kind of on their needs, but just not as high. Interesting. Call (Packers GM Brian Gutekunst) and ask him, would love to hear his thoughts on it.”

On how the technology went: “We had no technology glitches at all. Everything was really smooth on our end. Again, I’ve been crediting our IT guys – Levi Wilson and Steve Lancaster – they’ve been outstanding. We had no issues. The Winnebago showed up at about 6:00 p.m., backed into the driveway. We had a lot of people in the neighborhood coming over taking pictures, so that will be interesting to see what’s out there. You guys can probably Twitter-troll those guys pretty good. See if you could find some of those. But, we had quite a spread here. We had some food delivered. A friend of mine was fortunate enough to send us over some food, so that was nice. We shared that with Steve out in the Winnebago. My kids enjoyed it. We have lots of desserts left over, so it’s going to be a long weekend over here at the Quinn house, I’m just telling you. There’s a lot of calories that are still in the kitchen right now. I’m about to go in there now actually because my kids are in bed so I can go in there and just go to town here for a little bit.”

LIONS CB JEFF OKUDAH CONFERENCE CALL

On what it was like to hear his named called: “It was a feeling I can’t explain – just all the hard work, all the sacrifices, finally getting the chance to hear my name called – it was really something that I’ll remember forever.”

On the amount of contact he had with the Lions in the pre-draft process and how he fits the team’s defensive scheme: “At Ohio State, we played a bunch of coverages. We played Cover 1, Cover 3, played some Cover 4. So I think my background of playing a bunch of defenses – I’m pretty confident that I can go in there and be able to learn the defense.”

On how he’s going to approach the virtual offseason program: “Yeah, so pretty much – I haven’t been in touch with the DB coach yet or the defensive coordinator – but they’re going to give me the plan, and I’m going to follow it to the best of my ability.”

On if he was sure the Lions were going to select him at No. 3: “I wasn’t really sure of anything coming in tonight because my mindset was just to come into the Draft with an open mind. A lot of things happen on draft night that are out of your control. I was just kind of ready (for) whatever would happen, I was already trying to get whatever franchise I would be playing for everything that I had.”

On his initial draft night plan and how it changed: “I was actually going to partake in the Draft. I was going to go off to Vegas. So with everything that happened, obviously we had to do it from inside the house. Looking back on it, I feel like it was pretty cool just being around family, being surrounded by loved ones. This will be a moment I never forget.”

On what it means to be the first cornerback to be drafted in the Top 5 in 23 years: “It’s a crazy feeling being drafted that high. The Detroit Lions think a lot about me, and I think it’s up to me to return that and give them all that I have and go to work every single day with my teammates and be the best player that I can be.”

On what he knows about Lions CB Desmond Trufant: “I mean, I know he’s been a really successful corner in the NFL for a while. Actually, I want to get with him, I want to learn his process, his routine. I’m going to be around him a lot, so I’m going to try to soak up everything that he knows, things that he wishes that he could have done differently and kind of use his trials and testimony to maybe help myself avoid going through the same things.”

On which NFL players he reached out to before the Draft and why: “I talked to a lot of guys. I talked to Jalen Ramsey, Stephon Gilmore, Tyrann Mathieu, so pretty much just learning their process, learning things they’ve done earlier that they wish they could have done differently, and just kind of getting a feel of what the NFL’s all about.”

On his impressions of the Lions’ defense and how he can fit: “I think it’s the kind of defense – obviously, I can’t really speak for the whole scheme because I don’t know too much about it as far as the intricacies of it – but I’m just intrigued to see where I can fit in, where I can earn my keep.”

On what he knows about the history of the Lions and the City of Detroit: “I don’t believe that I’ve ever been to Detroit. I’ve been to Michigan three times playing Michigan State and Michigan. As far as Detroit, I don’t know too much about the actual city. I know – obviously just watching football – I know about the franchise. They’ve had some really great players come play for the Lions, so it’s obviously an honor to wear the jersey.”

On what he considers his greatest asset at his position: “I think it’s just my technique. I try to consider myself a technician, so that’s just what I try to rely on because I know that when everyone’s athleticism fades away, now all you are left with is your technique. So, I try to sharpen my sword every chance that I can get.”

On how proud his mother would have been to see him get drafted tonight: “I know she would’ve been in tears. Honestly, she didn’t really understand football like that just being born in Nigeria, but she knew what made me happy. So, I think just her seeing me smile, me being really excited, I think that it would just bring her to tears. She saw all the hard work. It was a moment that I was really just embracing each other in. I’m looking forward to getting to be myself tonight and just have a talk with her, a long talk with her.”

On who was at his draft party gathering: “I had my aunt, my sister and my uncle, two cousins and my trainer that I have been working with since I was in high school.”

On if he was back home in suburban Dallas: “Yeah, I was back home at my aunt’s house.”

On how he thinks growing up in Dallas and playing at Ohio State set him on the path to experience this day: “I think it’s just competing. I think that Ohio State really emphasized competing in everything you do. So obviously, when you play a lot of man-to-man it’s going to be a competition, you versus your man against you. So, it really incorporated a lot of things that we did competitively and the drills that we’re doing in the offseason. So, I think just having that background and it just always lead to competing, competing, competing. It’ll really help me on the next level.”

On what Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia told him tonight upon selecting him: “He was just like, ‘Excited to have you here. I’m ready to coach you, and I’m ready to work.’”

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