Often lost in the Atlanta Falcons quarterback debate and frustrations with head coach Arthur Smith is one player that has been quietly great since returning. Corner Jeff Okudah is playing like the first-round talent he was expected to be when drafted into the league.
Okudah had a rough first few seasons in the NFL and the Lions chose not to pick up his fifth-year option trading the corner to Atlanta in the final year of his deal. The Falcons made a similar move with Mike Hughes hoping to find a cheap option to pair alongside star corner A.J. Terrell.
Both moves made it clear as well that the Falcons were heavily considering taking Bijan Robinson and not one of the clear fits at corner. A decision that has worked out for the better when you consider Robinson's talent and the emergence of Okudah.
Okudah is one of the few key Atlanta Falcons not locked up past next season and if he continues to play at this level will be rewarded with a healthy contract. Re-signing Okudah will become a priority for Atlanta if Okudah continues to play at this level.
Jeff hasn't been perfect but his physicality and ability to play man coverage have been impressive since his return. Whether it is simply a change of scenery or a new defensive scheme Okudah isn't the same player he was for the first years of his career.
Not making the same big mistakes and consistently locking down his man Atlanta now has two great corners who are due contracts. With the way the roster is built currently, it isn't at all out of question that they could sign both players to extensions and give Atlanta a great secondary with Jessie Bates wreaking havoc on the back end. Adding Okudah has quietly been one of the most impressive trades of the NFL off-season and proved to be the missing piece for this Atlanta defense.