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Another CB? Eagles move up in second round, draft Iowa's Cooper DeJean

One top cornerback wasn’t enough for Howie Roseman. So one day after they picked Quinyon Mitchell with the 22nd pick, the Eagles traded up 10 spots in the second round Friday and selected Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean.

Like Mitchell, DeJean dropped well below where he was expected to get drafted. And much like the 2002 draft, with Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown, the Eagles have drafted two young cornerbacks in the first two rounds they hope can become a long-lasting tandem.

The Eagles traded both their second-round picks — No. 50 and No. 53 — to the Commanders along with No. 161 in the fifth round in exchange for No. 40 and No. 78, which becomes their only pick in the third round, and No. 152 in the fifth round.

Update: Eagles use third-round pick to draft pass rusher from little-known school

The Eagles had only taken two cornerbacks in the first two rounds in the last 20 years — Eric Rowe in the second round in the 2015 Chip Kelly draft and Sidney Jones in the second round in 2017.

Now they’ve taken two in the same draft.

The Eagles this past year allowed 253 passing yards per game — second-worst in the NFL — and became the eighth team in NFL history to allow 35 or more touchdown passes and intercept fewer than 10 passes.

They’ve now added Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Isaiah Rodgers, Mitchell and DeJean to the secondary since the start of free agency.

The Eagles’ starting corners last year, five-time Pro Bowler Darius Slay, and 2022 second-team all-pro James Bradberry, are both in their 30s, and after a disastrous season in 2023 Bradberry’s future is uncertain at best.

Whatever happens, the Eagles now believe they have the heir apparents for both of them.

After spending 2021 as a deep backup, DeJean had a breakthrough 2022 season, with five interceptions, eight pass breakups and three tackles for loss. He followed that with two INTs, five pass breakups and two tackles for loss this past season.

DeJean is the first Iowa player the Eagles have ever selected in the second round. The earliest they’ve previously taken an Iowa Hawkeye was guard Curt Metz with the 30th overall pick (in the third round) in 1960. The New Jersey native never played for the Eagles.

The Eagles drafted a couple Iowa d-backs in the fourth round — Damien Robinson in 1997 and Sean Considine in 2005. Robinson never played for the Eagles but had 13 interceptions with the Buccaneers, Jets and Seahawks. Considine started 17 games in four seasons with the Eagles.

“I feel like I’ve proven that I can play outside and inside,” DeJean said at the Combine. “Obviously, I haven’t played safety in college. But I feel like I have the ability to play multiple, different positions in the back end.

“(That) helped me become a better football player in general. And I feel like Iowa has prepared me for that, being able to play multiple, different positions, and understand the ins and outs of a defense.”

DeJean has terrific ball skills, great athleticism and is a tough, physical kid. The knock on DeJean is that his tight hips will limit him in man coverage.

“I feel like I’m a physical guy,” he said. “I can run. I have a good feel for the game, for sure. I feel like I can help out in the run game as well as as a corner.”

The Eagles have gotten by almost exclusively with veteran corners over the past 15 years or so. The only outside cornerback they’ve drafted in the last 20 years who’s become a regular starter is Jalen Mills, a seventh-round pick in 2016.

DeJean joins a cornerback room that includes Slay, Bradberry, Mitchell, Rodgers and 2023 rookies Kelee Ringo and Eli Ricks, who both had some promising moments this past year as well. The Eagles recently re-signed veteran slot Avonte Maddox.

Roseman has said Bradberry is part of the Eagles’ plans moving forward, but drafting two corners this high makes that seem unlikely.

“I grew up playing all types of sports,” DeJean said. “I love to challenge myself, really. I’m a competitive guy. I compete in everything I do. We can be racking weights on a bar, and I’m still trying to be the fastest one to do it. That’s just how I grew up, how I am, playing all four sports in high school. That really drove my competitive nature, want to win and do everything to the best of my ability.

The Eagles have drafted six players in the first two rounds over the last three years and five of them are on the defensive side – Jordan Davis, Jalen Carer, Nolan Smith, Mitchell and DeJean. The only offensive player is Cam Jurgens.

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