Cornerback Justin Coleman hasn't met first-round pick Jeff Okudah in person just yet, but the veteran Coleman has been impressed with the No. 3 overall pick in the virtual contact the two have had as teams have been forced to navigate the offseason training program virtually because of COVID-19.
"I feel like he's coming in here pretty confident in his ability," Coleman said in a Zoom call Wednesday. "But he's also hungry. I can see that he wants to learn everything possible. He's asking questions and stuff when we're in the Zoom meetings. He just wants to know more. Coaches going over plays and he'll ask questions about certain things that doesn't even have to do with cornerback. It just shows he knows a lot about football."
The Lions used their first-round pick on Okudah in this year's NFL Draft with the expectation he'll become an immediate contributor at corner alongside Coleman, who plays mostly in the nickel, and veteran Desmond Trufant, who the team signed in free agency.
Okudah started all 14 games in 2019 for Ohio State and was a shutdown cornerback for the Buckeyes. He allowed a career passer rating of 55.7 over his three seasons at Ohio State and a completion percentage of 43.2. He has terrific size, strength and speed, and seems to be a natural fit in Detroit's heavy-man scheme.
But like all rookies, there will be an adjustment period, and this year's rookies have the added challenge of missing out on an entire offseason training program of on-field work.
Asked what advice he'd give a young cornerback like Okudah about playing on an island in the NFL, Coleman joked that it wouldn't be anything about penalties because Okudah wasn't flagged at all in 2019.
"I'm just really going to say, compete to the end," Coleman said. "Because as you know, it's professional level. Guys are extraordinary. Sometimes I've seen where rookies are there, they're on the play, they're right there at that moment, but just didn't make the play, couldn't get the ball out, so I'm just going to say he just has to compete to finish, because that'll take him a long way."