Defensive back Jeff Okudah has some telling words about former Detroit Lions coaches

To say Jeff Okudah struggled during his rookie season is to say the sun is bright. Okudah struggled with injuries and when healthy he struggled to cover the wide receiver across from him. Yet, Jeff Okudah came out of Ohio State as a top 5 talent, who was widely viewed by NFL and football experts as the top cornerback in last years NFL Draft. Day’s ago during an interview Okudah shed some light on why he struggled so mightily.

Jeff Okudah is good at saying what he means even if it means talking in code. I do not believe Okudah was taking a pot-shot at form Detroit Lions coaches, as much as he was explaining why he struggled despite being top 5 talent.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 27: Cornerback Jeff Okudah #30 of the Detroit Lions in the NFL game Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions defeated the Cardinals 26-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Jeff Okudah was recently asked about the new Lions coaching staff specifically new defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant.

“Within the first couple of meetings, I was just picking up so much things that I thought to myself, ‘It just would have been nice to have these tools in my toolbox in my rookie year, Looking at the film and breaking down how the offense is trying to attack. That’s what I try to do every single day going into the game plan. So just having the tools that (Aubrey Pleasant) has put in my toolbox, it’s like I’m seeing film from a whole new perspective, I’m seeing the game completely different. That’s one thing that has me really excited going into my second year.”

On the surface it is a harmless quote. A deeper look is a rather damning blow to former Lions head coach Matt Patricia and his coaching staff. Okudah in essence pointed out that film study was never part of Lions game day preparation.

CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 14, 2014: Assistant defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn of the Cleveland Browns celebrates a game winning field goal by kicker Billy Cundiff #8 after a game against the New Orleans Saints on September 14, 2014 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 26-24. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Many NFL experts have singled out Jeff Okudah as a player that will have a bounce-back season. Highly regarded Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn also has faith in Okudah who will be entering his second NFL season.

This is not a finger point at former Detroit Lions coaches! This is just a look at part of what went so wrong during that era of Lions football and how there could be hope with the new Lions coaching staff.

Day two of the 2021 NFL Draft showed the Detroit Lions new front office gets it

The Detroit Lions media and fan base are getting an up close look at just what made Lions General Manager Brad Holmes so valuable to the Los Angeles Rams. Holmes helped build the Rams into an NFC contender through a very good eye for talent and understanding how he wanted the Rams to look. The Detroit Lions are in a full rebuild and Holmes and the rest of the Lions front office have wasted no time in adding some key pieces for the teams future.

As of right now the Detroit Lions have a top five draft, this only after day 2 of the NFL Draft. When was the last time that happened you asked? 1988. Unless you live under a shoe you already know the Detroit Lions drafted offensive tackle Penei Sewell in the first round. A generational talent.

SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 29: Washington Huskies defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike (95) walks up to the line of scrimmage before a play in the 112th Apple Cup between the Washington Huskies and the Washington State Cougars on Friday, November 29, 2019 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, WA. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Day two saw Brad Holmes and the rest of the Lions front office adding even more teeth (pun and no pun intended) to the rebuilding Lions roster. With the second round draft pick Brad Holmes and the Lions selected defensive linemen  Levi Onwuzurike from the Washington Huskies. In the third round another defensive lineman from N. C. State Alim McNeill also in the third round cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu out of the University of Syracuse.

No skilled players draft in the first 3 rounds by the Lions. I am speechless. In a good way. Meaning that Brad Holmes and Co. are building the Detroit roster the proper way. Lions fans on social media for the most part are happy with the draft thus far. Some are not.

TALLAHASSEE, FL – OCTOBER 26: Safety Ifeatu Melifonwu #23 of the Syracuse Orange during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on Bobby Bowden Field on October 26, 2019 in Tallahassee, Florida. The Seminoles defeated the Orange 35 to 17. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

To the fans that are not happy with the Lions draft through round 3, I say this. In a rebuild it is far more important to build the nucleus of the roster than it is to add skill players. Games are one and lost in the trenches. If the offensive line is doing their job then it will generate success. If the defensive line is doing their job it will give the linebackers and secondary a chance to shine thus generating more success.

The Detroit Lions will not win many games in 2021. That is alright. Brad Homes is setting the organization to win in a year or two from now. With a draft like this fans should be excited for the future.

The Detroit Lions draft offensive tackle Penei Sewell

They did it! No really. The Detroit Lions drafted a foundational player. Penei Sewell from the University of Oregon, an offensive tackle. In his first draft as Lions general manager, Brad Holmes absolutely nailed the draft pick. The Detroit Lions got a premier offensive linemen and a generational player. It is refreshing to actually see the Lions draft a player who is as gifted a Sewell.

Through the first six draft picks in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft it seemed as if Penei Sewell could be there when the Detroit Lions picked at #7. When the Lions were on the clock, not only was Sewell still on the board but so were other players that certainly would have and could have helped the Lions.

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 02: Oregon Ducks offensive lineman Penei Sewell (58) during a college football game between the Oregon Ducks and the USC Trojans on November 02, 2019, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

What made Penei Sewell not only the right pick for the Lions but also the only pick that made sense, is that the Oregon product is the best tackle to come out of college in a long time. Let’s take a look at what makes Sewell so good.

For starters Sewell, has an elite frame for an offensive tackle, build and speed and power are a plus. Down after down Sewell explosively springs out of his stance to gain ground with above average footwork, excellent balance and weight distribution as a pass protector and run blocker with special ability to recover from compromising positions.

In other words Penei Sewell is the total package. He is a tackle who just does not come around everyday or every NFL Draft. Many football experts, broadcasters and media members believed Sewell was the best player in college football. They may have been right.

For a team like the Detroit Lions who are in a full blown rebuild drafting a player like Penei Sewell is a very good start. Not only that but Brad Holmes has really bucked Lions history by not drafting a skilled player or a one year wonder.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – APRIL 29: A Detroit Lions fan holds a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after the Lions selected Penei Sewell with the seventh pick during round one of the 2021 NFL Draft at the Great Lakes Science Center on April 29, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Detroit Lions fans and beat writers will get a better look at the vision Holmes has for the Lions when the 2021 NFL Draft resumes with rounds 2-3 today and then the rest of the draft.

Former Detroit Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky pleads with the Detroit Lions not to make the same mistake

Former Detroit Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky had some rather poignant remarks regarding his former team. Orlovsky’s plea? For current Lions general manager Brad Holmes to not repeat the same mistakes made by the last few Lions GM’s. Dan Orlovsky does not want the Detroit Lions to take a skilled player (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker) in the first round.

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 18: Dan Orlovsky #8 of the Detroit Lions warms up prior to the game between the Detroit Lions and the Tennessee Titans at Ford Field on September 18, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

You may recall just a few days ago, I made a similar statement that Dan Orlovsky (current ESPN analyst) made yesterday via social media. It is somewhat surreal that a former NFL player and current analyst would echo what I had written.

That said, it is a drum that I am going to beat up unto the 2021 NFL Draft. Orlovsky is dead right! No, zero, zilch, NFL team has ever had success building it’s roster by drafting skilled players in the first round.

If a team does draft a skilled player it is because they feel the offensive line and defensive line are set. That is not the case in Detroit. The right side of the Lions offensive line is currently a mess. The defensive line is not a whole lot better.

Again, IF Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell do in fact believe quarterback Jared Goff is the long-term solution then the team must build around him. Not behind him (running back) not out to the sides of him (wide receivers/ tight end.) But right in front of him, namely the right side of the offensive line.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 20: A helmet of the Detroit Lions rests on the sideline during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

It is nice to know that someone else out there feels the same way about how to build an NFL roster that I do. Again former NFL head coach and NFL Hall of Famer Bill Parcells established this philosophy  and enjoyed a lot of success.

It is easy to get caught up in the flash and glitz and sexyness  of skilled players. It is a much better position to be in when teams choose a bit more wisely and build both the offensive and defensive lines.

Sifting through what the Detroit Lions should do at #7

NFL Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells had a drafting philosophy that lead to many wins including Super Bowl wins. So what was this philosophy that also had a winning formula to it? Parcells believed with first round draft picks that an organization either take an offensive linemen or defensive linemen. I other words build your lines. Not a skilled position player such as quarterback, running back or wide receiver. Again, Bill Parcells won an awful lot of games taking this route.

CANTON, OH – AUGUST 3: Former head coach Bill Parcells poses with his Hall of Fame bust during the NFL Class of 2013 Enshrinement Ceremony at Fawcett Stadium on Aug. 3, 2013 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Bill Parcells once said that if he built his offensive line correctly he could could get any “Joe Blow” to play quarterback and he was going to win a lot of games. During his coaching career, Parcells did win a lot of games and do you know what? He did not coach a Hall of Fame quarterback.

What is the lesson in all of this? The 2021 NFL Draft is fast approaching. This years draft boasts of some of the best offensive tackles that have come out of college in a long time. The Detroit Lions who currently sit at #7 overall in the first round just so happen to greatly need to improve the right side of the offensive line at guard and you guessed it, right tackle.

I am not going to toss around names of possible players the Detroit Lions should look at. This write-up is solely focused on team need and drafting philosophy. It is and has become more and more clear the Detroit Lions view quarterback Jared Goff as the long-term signal caller.

If that is indeed the case then Lions general manager Brad Holmes, needs to build around Goff. What better way to illustrate to player, fans and media than to surround the starting quarterback with an offensive line that can protect both in the pass and run game?

NEW YORK – APRIL 26: A general view shows the stage during the during the 2008 NFL Draft on April 26, 2008 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

With holes a plenty up and down the Detroit Lions roster, the team needs to key in on what to address in this years draft. There are far to many holes to address in one draft.

If I am in the Detroit Lions front office, then I would be adamant the team takes a long hard look at Bill Parcells winning draft philosophy.

Why Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith makes sense for the Detroit Lions

Gone from the Detroit Lions roster is pretty much all the wide receivers from the past few seasons. In with the new. Some players signed during free agency will add much needed speed, but by and large the Detroit Lions need to remake the receiver group from the draft. The Lions currently hold the #7 overall draft pick. A player who in my opinion would go a long way in retooling the downfield attack is former Alabama Crimson Tide receiver DeVonta Smith.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 05: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY through Tuesday, January 12, 2021. Approval by the Heisman Trust will be needed for any usage thereafter or any Commercial usage requests at any point.) Wide receiver DeVonta Smith of the Alabama Crimson Tide poses with the Heisman Memorial Trophy on January 05, 2021 in New York, New York. (Photo by Kent Gidley/Heisman Trophy Trust via Getty Images)

Heisman Trophy Winner DeVonta Smith is not the biggest wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft. But that is just fine. He may be among the fastest and also Smith contains some intangibles that may prove to be too much for the Detroit Lions to pass up.

During the COVID shortened college football season, Smith put up some eye popping numbers. Smith’s numbers and talent has made him a top 10 prospect, with 117 receptions for 1,856 yards and a total of 24 touchdowns in 13 games  and lead the country in 20+ yard targets in becoming the first wide receiver since Michigan Wolverines, Desmond Howard (1991) in winning the Heisman Trophy.

Standing 6 foot 1 inch, DeVonta Smith is not over imposing. Once the ball is snapped however Smith shows elite skill. Not only did Smith win the Heisman but he was also named the MVP of the Alabama offense.

For a team looking to build a roster and team into a playoff contending franchise, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes should give drafting DeVonta Smith serious consideration.

Smith can be a game breaking player and give real life to the Detroit Lions passing attack. Sure the Lions have holes aplenty all over the current roster. One draft will not and can not fix that. But for a franchise looking to build a team with speed. DeVonta Smith would be a next to perfect fit.

By restructuring quarterback Jared Goff’s contract the Detroit Lions free up $15 million

The Detroit Lions were (and still are for the most part) tight against the salary cap. On Wednesday morning it was announced the team has restructured the contract of presumed starting quarterback Jared Goff. There was some cap relief to the tune of $15. It does however also mean the Lions are tied to Goff longer.

Detroit Lions General Manager, Brad Homes, has stated many times that Jared Goff was THE reason the Lions traded former quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams.

DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 16: Jared Goff #16 of the Los Angeles Rams warms up prior to the start of the game against the Detroit Lions on October 16, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Rams 31-28. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Holmes has had a solid relationship with Goff ever since he spearheaded the Rams drafting him. While it is true the Lions received two-first round draft picks as well as a third round pick, Holmes says Goff was the reason for the trade.

With a base salary of $25.65 million, the Lions converted $20 million of the contract into a signing bonus. So Goff gets all that money up front. While he was going to be the presumed Lions starter this season Jared Goff is now likely to be the Lions starting quarterback for at minimum two seasons and possibly more.

NEW YORK – APRIL 26: A general view shows the stage during the during the 2008 NFL Draft on April 26, 2008 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Sure Brad Holmes has said that all draft options were on the table at #7 including a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. Now the Lions have even more options. If a quarterback they like is not there they can either draft another position of need or move back and acquire more picks.

The restructured contract allows the Lions to sign their draft class as well as sign any free agent during the season in case of injury. It could be just as Holmes has said, he views Goff as the starting quarterback moving forward.

The real proof will come during the draft. When the Lions draft their first round draft pick all will be revealed.

 

By re-signing Romeo Okwara it is the start of a long overdue rebuild for the Detroit Lions

Some teams tweak their rosters to stave off rebuilding while trying most times in vain for one more trip to the playoffs. Some teams rip the band aid off and get right down to rebuilding. That is where the Detroit Lions are. A down to the studs rebuild. When Lions general manager Brad Holmes re-signed defensive end Romeo Okwara and not wide receiver Kenny Golladay, Holmes effectively moved the Lions into rebuild mode.

Here in my opinion is what Brad Holmes may have been thinking. While it would have been nice to have both Okwara and Golladay back due to salary cap issues that was not in the cards for the Lions.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) runs the ball under the pressure of Detroit Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara (95) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, October 28, 2018. (Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Lions defense has needed edge rushers for a while. Romeo Okwara and his 10 quarterback sacks last season fits that bill. Again in my opinion because he can get to the quarterback Holmes put a premium on bringing Okwara back.

NFL pass rushers who are able to sack quarterbacks are not cheap. As Okwara’s 3 year $13 per year contract extension shows. One other factor I believe was critical in Holmes decision is that the Detroit Lions defense was so bad last few seasons that he simply could not afford to let the best player on the defense walk as a free agent and get nothing in return for him.

Make no mistake about it, by re-signing Okwara the Lions defense is not going to suddenly spring to life. It does mean that when his rotation comes up and he is on the field, he gives the Lions a proven weapon. This team is rebuilding and needs any edge it can get.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – NOVEMBER 15: Romeo Okwara #95 of the Detroit Lions plays against the Washington Football Team at Ford Field on November 15, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The easy step to take was re-signing Romeo Okwara. The more difficult part comes by Brad Holmes and the Detroit Lions scouting department putting the right talent around him.

This was the right call for Brad Holmes to make. Kenny Golladay is a very good player and can help any offense in the NFL. But a good, talented young edge rusher does not come along everyday.

With roster holes and needs all over, look at who the Detroit Lions could target in the 2021 NFL Draft

Following a 5-11 season that saw the dismissal of general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia the Detroit Lions are starting over. New Lions GM Brad Holmes and the Lions scouting department are currently hard at work evaluating talent and coming up for a draft day “big board.” The Lions have holes all over the roster and are set to embark on a lengthy rebuild. So who could the franchise target with the #7 pick in the first round? Let’s take a look.

The 2021 NFL Draft is set, Thursday, April 29- May 1. It has been a while since the Detroit Lions have won a playoff game, 1991 to be exact. Brad Holmes is now being charged with changing the narrative that the Detroit Lions can not be a winning franchise.

It is safe to say the Detroit Lions will not be a winning team for at least two seasons and more likely three. That is alright. It is more important that Holmes and company get the draft picks right in order to build a core of players to build around.

In my opinion the Detroit Lions have three position groups that stand out as needing the most attention. In no certain order. Keep in mind that all of the Lions issues and needs will not be fixed in one draft.

  1. Wide Receiver:  Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola are all going to be gone and need to be replaced.  2020 fifth-rounder Quintez Cephus
    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 20: Quintez Cephus #87 of the Detroit Lionsplays against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

    is a player who has proven he can be part of the Lions receiving future. Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle are all wide receivers who could and should be there when Detroit picks at #7. Any one of the three would be a big welcome.

2. Linebacker: I will try to be nice here, but the facts are that the linebackers were (and as of right now still are) a hot mess of bad. The Lions linebackers are void of athleticism and energy. There appears to be only one linebacker worthy of a top 10 pick and that player is  Penn State’s Micah Parsons. Parsons is by far the most versatile linebacker in this class. Parsons would instantly be the Lions top linebacker if selected.

 

3. Quarterback: Yes, Jared Goff will be the Detroit Lions starting quarterback this season and perhaps next season. Brad Holmes said he likes the quarterbacks in this years draft. One of Trey Lance, Justin Fields and  Zach Wilson, could be there at #7. If Holmes goes quarterback it is because he and the scouting department agree on a player enough to make them the franchise QB.

There you have it. These are the positions and some players who I believe the Detroit Lions are looking into. We will know for sure next month when the 2021 NFL Draft rolls out.

The Detroit Lions are being set up for future success

New Detroit Lions General Manager, Brad Holmes has wasted little time in taking an axe to former GM Bob Quinn’s roster. To date Holmes has cut eight players from the Quinn era and traded the franchise quarterback (Matthew Stafford) to the Los Angeles Rams for two-first round draft picks and a third round draft pick as well as Rams starting quarterback Jared Goff. In doing so Holmes is setting the Lions up for future success.

As with any new front office and coaching staff, Brad Holmes is no different. Holmes is looking to put his fingerprints on the Lions roster. A roster filed with slow, aging over paid players. Holmes made it clear he prefers young fast versatile players.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 27: Running back D’Andre Swift #32 of the Detroit Lions warms up before the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Lions defeated the Cardinals 26-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

By freeing up the Detroit roster of players that do not and will not fit what the Lions are trying to do, Holmes is setting the Lions up to fail. Yes, I said fail. The team is void of enough impact players to win. That is a good thing. This is a total rebuild.

When any team in any sport rebuilds, high draft picks are critical to future success. By pairing down rosters general managers increase the probability they will net high draft picks, Brad Holmes has done that.  Holmes has made it nearly impossible for the Lions to be anywhere but a top three pick in next years NFL draft. Coupled with the Los Angeles Rams first round draft pick in 2022 and 2023.

The popular phrase used by fans and media when a general manager strips a roster of talent is “tanking.” It may sound crude, but the is in essence exactly what is taking place.

Brad Holmes has said he does not like the term rebuild, but he prefers retooling or reshaping. Call it what you will. A new Detroit Lions team and roster will emerge when the dust settles.

While the Detroit Lions are set to be bad (really bad) for the next two years. If Brad Holmes does his job, the Detroit Lions are going to be a good solid team. Like the one Holmes played a key role in with the Rams.