Cooper DeJean headlining ‘way-too-early’ 2024 NFL draft boards
The Hawkeyes saw Lukas Van Ness and Jack Campbell go in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft along with Riley Moss soon after. What if I told you they may have the best yet to come for the NFL?
When it is all said and done, there is more than a clear path for Cooper DeJean to be one of the best Iowa Hawkeyes to don the black and gold. Lofty expectations? Sure. Is the talent and potential there to do it? More than enough.
The 2022 season saw DeJean explode onto the scene, not just for Iowa, but nationally with five interceptions (three of which he returned for touchdowns) as a member of one of the nation’s best defensive units. He is running it back in 2023 as the leader of the Hawkeyes’ secondary and looking to expand on his already impressive play.
He oozes talent and athleticism. It has NFL teams already swooning over drafting him in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft. Not only can DeJean play corner and slide back to safety, but he has punt-returning ability and is a menace on punt coverage which is even more important to NFL teams with limited roster sizes.
While there is the reality that he likely only has one more season as a Hawkeye, the silver lining is going to be witnessing his play week in and week out. Here are some early projections for Cooper DeJean from around the sports world in regard to his status on 2024 NFL draft boards.
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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
ESPN’s premier draft analyst Todd McShay has Cooper DeJean going in the first round to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No. 23 pick.
Jacksonville has Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams on the outside, but both are free agents after the 2024 season. And it could use someone in the slot, too. DeJean has the versatility to play there before moving outside. He’s an instinctive playmaker with speed, and he’s built like a safety at 6-foot-1, 209 pounds. DeJean had five interceptions last season, and three were TD returns. And after the Jags struggled on punt returns (7.9 yards per run back) last year, he could bring a boost there. He averaged 16.5 yards per return in 2022. – McShay, ESPN
Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK
CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson is predicting DeJean to reunite with recent first round Lukas Van Ness with the Green Bay Packers drafting him with the No. 13 pick.
The ball-hawking DeJean might have been Iowa’s best player last season. – Wilson, CBS Sports
USA TODAY Sports
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
USA TODAY Sports’ Doug Farrar from Touchdown Wire has DeJean going to the Houston Texans with the No. 19 pick.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Dane Brugler of The Athletic (subscription required) is mocking Cooper DeJean to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No. 21 pick.
Iowa had a really good showing in the 2023 NFL Draft, and the cupboard isn’t bare. DeJean is an explosive athlete (watch his high school dunking highlights) and led the Hawkeyes last season with five interceptions. – Brugler, The Athletic
Pro Football Focus
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Max Chadwick of Pro Football Focus is turning the Denver Broncos‘ secondary into a reunion of DeJean and Riley Moss as he has them drafting him with the No. 16 pick.
After taking Riley Moss in the third round of this year’s draft, the Broncos select another Iowa defensive back here. DeJean is the most versatile corner in college football. He can excel both in coverage and as a run-defender either on the outside or as a slot corner. DeJean was the only corner in the country with 85-plus grades both in coverage and in run defense. His five interceptions tied for fourth among Power Five corners while his 15 run-defense stops tied for the most among all FBS ones. – Chadwick, PFF
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