Desmond Trufant knows exactly what Lions rookie cornerback Jeff Okudah is going through as a first-round pick with expectations to make an immediate impact.
Trufant was a first-round pick himself by Atlanta in 2013 (No. 22 overall). He was expected to come in and help turn Atlanta's defense around right away.
Trufant started Week 1 for Atlanta his rookie season and ended up starting all 16 games that year, finishing with two interceptions and 17 passes defended. He was a Top 10 overall cornerback by Pro Football Focus rankings. He went on to start all 97 games he's played over the last seven seasons and has been one of the more reliable cornerbacks in the game over that span. Trufant signed with the Lions as a free agent this offseason.
So what advice does Trufant have for Okudah as he navigates through his first training camp with high expectations on his shoulders?
View photos from workouts during Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage on Aug. 13, 2020.
"The first thing is just get comfortable," Trufant said in a Zoom call with reporters Thursday. "Get into your routine. Figure out how you're going to study. How you're going to rehab. Just those everyday routines that all of us have, and stick to it. If something is working for you, stick to it.
"At the corner position, it's a lot of pressure on your shoulders. I would just tell him, 'You create your own pressure out there. However you feel, however you react to every situation, it's on you, good or bad. Just even keel. You're not going to make every play, but you're going to make a lot of plays as well, too.'"
The Lions used the No. 3 overall pick on Okudah this year, and players selected that high are usually expected to be instant contributors.
Okudah has the size, speed and skillset to fit in nicely in their mainly press-man scheme. He's already impressed coaches and teammates, including Trufant, with his work ethic and mind for the game.
"Honestly, I think he has what it takes," Trufant said of Okudah. "I can just tell he's fundamentally sound. That's big coming to the NFL from college. Can you do your fundamentals every play, whether you're tired and no matter what the situation is? Can you continuously do that?
"I can already tell he's a technician and he just works hard, too. He's always asking questions and I'm excited to play with him and see how this thing goes."
Trufant and Okudah are likely to start at the two outside corner spots in a revamped secondary for the Lions this offseason. Detroit allowed the most passing yards per game last season and were tied for the fewest interceptions with just seven.
Okudah was the top cornerback in the draft, and Trufant is a proven commodity on the outside. Trufant had four interceptions in just nine games played last year due to injury.
Trufant said there will be hiccups along the way for Okudah, just like there were for him as a rookie. He told a story of how he was run over in a preseason game by tight end Jermaine Gresham. He said he realized right away the NFL was a different beast than college.
Okudah is going to make mistakes, but Trufant is confident the rookie will make his fair share of plays too. The good thing for Okudah is he's got someone in Trufant to lean on who knows exactly what he's going through.