Top prospect Okudah ends workout after hard fall

  • Covered Broncos for nine years for Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
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    of Selectors since 1999

INDIANAPOLIS — Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah, who is considered the best cornerback available in this year’s NFL draft, didn’t complete his on-field workout at the scouting combine Sunday after he landed hard leaping for a ball during position drills.

Okudah, who had already run an official 4.48 40-yard dash in the workout, jumped for a pass during position drills, hitting his head on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf when he landed. He told the coaches running the drills he had some neck soreness and did not complete the rest of the drills.

The All-American stayed on the field with the rest of the defensive backs as they completed the drills.

Okudah, Auburn’s Derrick Brown and Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons — all defensive players — were among the highest-rated players to work out in Indy. Quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa did not work out at the combine.

Okudah had said last week that he believed it was important for him to do the on-field work.

“Coming to the combine has always been a dream,” Okudah said. “Just being here is a dream come true. You go back and watch some of these combine videos, I watch Jalen Ramsey’s combine video, I watched Patrick Peterson’s combine video. I want somebody down the road to say, ‘Let’s turn on Jeff Okudah’s combine video.”

When he was asked whether there was some risk involved with working out, Okudah said: “It’s kind of like there’s risk-reward for everything. For me, it’s no different than going out against [Clemson wide receiver] Tee Higgins all game. It’s always going to be risk-reward. You chose if you’re going to get the reward or if you’re going to get the risk.”

Alabama’s Xavier McKinney, the top-rated safety on the board for many teams, told those running the drills Sunday that he experienced muscle cramps after his first 40-yard dash attempt. He ran an unofficial 4.64 and pulled up slightly at the end of the run.

He was not going to run a second 40 and was not expected to take part in the position drills.

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