NFL trade grades: Jeff Okudah trade report card for Falcons, Lions

Jeff Okudah trade (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Jeff Okudah trade (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Falcons landed Jeff Okudah in a trade with the Detroit Lions. Here’s how the deal grades for both sides.

On Tuesday, the Atlanta Falcons landed Jeff Okudah — a former third overall pick — in a trade with the Detroit Lions just weeks ahead of the 2023 iteration of the NFL Draft. The deal completely changes Atlanta’s draft strategy and gives the Lions an extra pick to work with in this year’s draft.

Here are the details of the trade:

Pretty straightforward. Atlanta sends out this year’s fifth-round draft pick, while the Lions send out Okudah. The pick going to Detroit is No. 159 overall, originally owned by the Jacksonville Jaguars. That makes eight total picks for the Lions on draft day this year… so far.

NFL trade grades: How the Falcons made out with Jeff Okudah trade

The Falcons make out like bandits here at first glance. Flipping a fifth-round pick for a player that is just a few years removed from being tapped as a top-five overall talent is a massive win. Okudah gets added now to a defense where he doesn’t have to necessarily be the man.

Atlanta signed Jessie Bates III in free agency this offseason to fortify the secondary. Okudah will probably get the second-string duties to Casey Hayward to start, with a chance to leap up the depth chart in training camp, preseason, or if injuries make him more necessary.

Okudah, entering his fourth year, is in a contract year. The Falcons are not tied to him for long if he doesn’t pan out, and a change of scenery and lowered pressure will be good for the CB who has only played in 25 games throughout his first three seasons.

After playing nine games in 2020 and just one in 2021, he appeared and started in 15 in 2022, logging 73 combined tackles (59 solo) including a pick-six and seven defended passes (third-most on the Lions last year).

Low-risk signing for the Falcons here who bring in a could-be star without spending much.

Atlanta Falcons trade grade: A

NFL trade grades: How the Lions made out with Jeff Okudah trade

The Lions were probably going to move on from Okudah one way or another after this season. If they didn’t trade him, he very well may have walked in free agency to give himself a change of scenery after an up-and-down start to the starting job in year three in Detroit.

Instead, they have to admit a sunk cost and realize they need to sell while they can.

Remember, the Saints traded C.J. Gardner-Johnson to the Eagles for a fifth- and sixth-round pick before the 2022 season kicked off. CJGJ was in a similar contract situation — free agent year upcoming — but far more proven than Okudah. The Lions were able to get almost as much as New Orleans got in return for a proven player.

Granted, there were other things at play with Gardner-Johnson, including the fact that he had made life difficult for Saints coaches, making trading him a cultural necessity, but the Lions made out better than one would have thought.

Sure, they could have tried to squeeze out a fourth-rounder instead of a fifth. For that, they get bumped down to the Bs.

Ultimately, while one could point to this being a massive failure having taken Okudah at No. 3 and trading him for a fourth, we’re grading the trade, not the Lions development of their prospects.

Detroit Lions trade grade: B+

All in all, a well-reasoned deal for both sides.

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