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Jaguars NFL draft prospect profiles: CB Cooper DeJean

With the 2024 NFL draft quickly approaching, Jaguars Wire is breaking down top prospects at positions of need for Jacksonville via individual scouting profiles.

Following our breakdowns of cornerback Terrion Arnold, wide receiver Rome Odunze, cornerback Quinyon Mitchell, wide receiver Malik Nabers, cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry, cornerback Nate Wiggins, wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. and wide receiver Adonai Mitchell, next up is cornerback Cooper DeJean.

NFL Combine measurements and positional percentiles via MockDraftable. Scouting reports by Jaguars Wire.

Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean (3) pulls in an interception for a touchdown over Kentucky wide receiver Barion Brown (2) during the second quarter of the TransPerfect Music City Bowl, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.
Syndication The Tennessean

Height/weight: 6-foot and 1/2-inch (68th percentile), 203 pounds (86th percentile)

Notable NFL Combine results: 31 and 3/8-inch arm length (48th percentile), 74 and 7/8-inch wingspan (40th percentile)

Notable Private Pro Day results: 4.42-second 40-yard dash, 1.52-second 10-yard split, 38 and 1/2-inch vertical jump, 10-foot, four-inch broad jump

College stats (three seasons, 30 games): 120 tackles, five tackles for loss, seven interceptions, three pick-sixes, 20 passes defended, 31 punts returned, 406 punt return yards, 13.1 yards per punt return, one punt return touchdown

Scouting report: From Ida Grove (Iowa) Battle Creek, DeJean’s recruitment was quiet and narrow. Despite his consensus four-star status, DeJean locked in with his home-state school, Iowa, nine months before the 2021 Early Signing Period and never wavered from his commitment.

DeJean’s playing time as a freshman was minimal, although he burned his redshirt by appearing in seven games. But by Week 1 of his sophomore year, he was a starter on the backend of Iowa’s defense, at cornerback, and he held onto the role for the next two seasons. 77.9% of his snaps were logged at outside cornerback compared to 22.1% in the slot or tackle box.

DeJean improved in from great to elite in coverage in that period, allowing completions on 51.4% of his targets in 2022 and then 43.5% in 2023, per Pro Football Focus. He made quarterbacks pay for testing him in 2022 by returning three interceptions for touchdowns.

Passers threw his way less often as a junior accordingly, only 4.6 times per game compared to 5.5 times per game the year before. Opposing receivers averaged only 19.4 yards per game against DeJean in 2023.

DeJean was also a force downhill against the rushing game and short passing attack. He compiled 35 “stops” (tackles that constitute a failed play for the offense) between 2022-23, routinely flying toward the ball carrier and making tackles around if not behind the line of scrimmage.

A fractured fibula ended DeJean’s final season with Iowa prematurely and sidelined him from the NFL combine and the Hawkeyes’ pro day, although he was recently cleared from the hurt, allowing him to host a private workout for NFL personnel earlier in April.

His middling arm length could also give teams pause as it signals a potential struggle for DeJean against bigger, more physical defensive backs. It didn’t stop him from getting a hand on nine passes in addition to his seven interceptions with Iowa, however.

If Jacksonville is comfortable with DeJean’s injury status, he’d make for another sensible cornerback choice at No. 17 or in a potential first-round trade back. He offers valuable positional flexibility with the ability to play nickel corner in year one and can move elsewhere when veteran defensive backs eventually become free agents.

Like McKinstry, DeJean was also an explosive punt returner in college and could offer Jacksonville a necessary second return man in the wake of the NFL’s instituting of new kickoff rules this offseason. The Jaguars signed wide receiver Devin Duvernay, who will fill one of those spots, in March.

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire