Iowa first-round draft prospect Cooper DeJean suffers season-ending injury

Iowa's Cooper DeJean, one of the best cornerbacks and punt returners in college football and a likely first-round pick in the 2024 NFL draft, has suffered a season-ending injury.

The precise nature of the injury has not been revealed, but it is reportedly to his lower leg.

“This is truly heartbreaking for Cooper,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He has played extremely well and is a real playmaker on our team. We will all support Cooper during his recovery, which will continue into the new year.”

DeJean is one of the five finalists for the Nagurski Award as the best defensive player in college football, and he is also the Big Ten's leader in punt return average — despite his signature play of this season, an apparent game-winning touchdown return against Minnesota in the game's closing moments — being overturned on a controversial ruling from the officials that DeJean had made an invalid fair catch signal before running the punt back.

Various mock drafts have DeJean likely to be selected around the 10th overall pick in April. It is unclear how serious this injury is and whether it will affect his ability to work out before the draft. DeJean's injury is the latest in a long line of injuries to draft prospects that point to how precarious it is for college players to keep playing amateur football when they're so close to earning millions in the pros.