A Look At The Detroit Lions Signing Of 2018 UDFA Cornerback Josh Okonye.
The defensive back group in Detroit is one of the deepest units on the team. The Lions have chosen to again add to that competition with the signing of UDFA Josh Okonye. While he did play his final year in the BIG 10 at Purdue, the cornerback spent his previous three seasons at Wake Forest. He steadily improved his production each of the first three seasons he had at Wake Forest. His junior year, he racked up 36 tackles, 21 of which where solo tackles, had three pass break-ups, as well as a fumble recovery.
Okonye then transferred to Purdue for the 2017 season, where he found even more success as a senior in a bigger program. He registered 57 tackles on the year, which is impressive run support for an edge corner. He backed this up by improving his ball skills as well, leading to 9 pass breakups on the year. What is impressive too, looking back at his senior season, is that his best games production wise came against Purdue’s arguably toughest opponents. These games came against Michigan, Wisconsin, and a Lamar Jackson-led Louisville team.
Okonye’s Camp Battle
As mentioned before, the Lions are quite deep in their defensive backfield. Which is very likely to create tough competition come training camp time. With his run support ability, and being 6’0, 200 lbs, Okonye has the ability to play on the outside or even rotate back as a safety in certain packages. Which certainly helps his prognosis in earning a potential training camp spot. But with fellow Lions Darius Slay, Nevin Lawson, DeShawn Shead, Teez Tabor, Quandre Diggs, and Jamal Agnew, it seems highly unlikely a UDFA breaks into this group during training camp.
However, it is worth noting it has happened before with success. New Lions head coach Matt Patricia had great success with UDFA cornerback Malcolm Butler during his time as the New England defensive coordinator. His physical style of play and size are similar to Butler. However, there is a significant gap between them in terms of footwork. Okonye needs to improve that area to compete for a roster spot the way Butler did, but it is far more likely he is fighting for a shot on the practice squad in 2018.