Detroit Lions Exorcise Last Vestigial Demon Of Failed Quinn-Patricia Era
From 2016 to 2020, Detroit Lions fans were subjected to a ruling regime of two buddies who, even by this infamously inept NFL franchise's standards, were incredibly unqualified for their roles.
Bob Quinn, a first-time general manager and product of the "Patriot Way" that never works anywhere other than a situation that includes both a Hall of Fame head coach-quarterback combo and copious amounts of cheating, ran the Lions' front office into heretofore unseen oblivion. Between disastrous signings — Jesse James, anyone? — and embarrassing reaches in the draft — Teez Tabor in the second round! — Quinn's leadership set the Lions back years.
Especially when he employed his friend and fellow New England nepo-hire Matt Patricia as head coach. It's hard to decide which of the pair was worse at their job, but I'll go with Patricia considering that Quinn wasn't a slob who was exclusively committed to the football version of a muumuu the way Mr. Rogers was to cardigans while having the shameless and/or oblivious nerve to admonish a reporter for his posture and apparel choices.
But on Tuesday, April 11, 2023, the Lions finally erased the last vestige of that bumbling clown car of an NFL leadership group when they traded Jeff Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons for a fifth-round pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. It comes as no real surprise, considering Okudah lost his starting role toward the end of last season, and then the Lions promptly rebuilt their defensive backfield as soon as free agency commenced last month.
But Okudah was set up to fail in Detroit, because Quinn and Patricia, in their last grand blunder at the helm of Detroit's NFL franchise, selected him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. An obvious NFL-caliber talent at Ohio State, Okudah had the goods to be an excellent pro corner. But being selected third overall doomed him with expectations he could never live up to.
Cornerbacks are rarely selected within the first five picks of a given draft. In fact, it's happened just 11 times over the last three decades. Even rarer is a corner taken at No. 3 — that's happened just three times over that same span of time. A corner has never been drafted higher than that spot.
It follows, then, that a corner drafted that high is expected to make a major impact immediately as a rookie, and then perennially contend for All-Pro honors, and, ultimately, challenge for Hall of Fame consideration. That's a lot to put on the shoulders of anyone, let alone a guy who's yet to play a single snap in the NFL.
And yet, that's how Okudah started his pro football career.
It was over almost as soon as it started when Okudah was lost for the season with a core muscle injury. His sophomore season, it all blew up even sooner when he ruptured his Achilles tendon in the opener.
Okudah looked good at times in 2023. He proved that even after the injuries he can actually play in this league, and that's great for him considering how far his stock had fallen over his first two years.
But the book is already written on his career — he's a bust. He'll never be able to validate his selection as the third overall player in the draft.
Not that he ever could, though.
Quinn and Patricia saved their best for last when they took Okudah that high instead of players who were drafted later who wound up being centerpieces of other franchises, such as: Justin Herbert, Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, and many others.
But that's all over now. The Lions did the right thing for Okudah in dealing him to Atlanta, where he'll have a better chance at building a better career.
The Lions also did the right thing for themselves, because we can all finally divorce ourselves from the lingering, fetid stench of that failed era. Detroit is good at football now, and it's OK to say it.
Hell, you should embrace it. The Lions' management is.