NFL Draft News & Analysis

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Iowa CB Cooper DeJean

2RTHNF2 Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean (3) gets set for a play during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa won 20-13. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The 2024 NFL Draft is fast approaching. The PFF big board is live, mock draft season is in full swing and the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine has wrapped up.

The cornerback class this year features high-end talent and even superstar potential, with players like Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell and Iowa’s Cooper DeJean sitting atop the class. There is tremendous depth at the cornerback position in 2024, with seven corners ranking in the top 50 of PFF’s big board.

Let's look at Iowa’s Cooper DeJean, who was named a 2023 All-American and took home awards for Defensive Back of the Year and Return Specialist of the Year.


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SCOUTING SUMMARY

DeJean played mostly outside cornerback for Iowa over the past two years. At 6 foot-1 and 205 pounds, he checks the size boxes for the position and brings top-tier natural athleticism.

His footwork is quick and controlled, his backpedal and shuffling are smooth, his stop-and-start speed is good for his size and his ball skills are elite. Wrap all that with a bow of high football IQ and instincts.

He doesn't have much experience in press coverage but can succeed in that role. DeJean is likely the best run-defending cornerback in the class. There aren't many holes, if any, in his game.

Click here to see Cooper DeJean's 2024 NFL Draft profile!

WINS ABOVE AVERAGE

WAA represents the number of wins a player is worth over an average college football player and is a metric evaluators can utilize to assess performance.

It combines how well a player performed in each facet of play (using PFF grades) and how valuable each facet is to winning football games. The result is a first-of-its-kind metric that allows for cross-positional valuation and predicts future value at the player and team levels.

DeJean’s Wins Above Average (WAA) since 2021.

HOW DEJEAN RANKS IN THE STABLE METRICS

Coverage grade is not a stable measure by itself, but it becomes more stable when it is used to evaluate players who will go on to play in similar situations. For example, if a cornerback plays primarily on the outside or in the slot, his projection is more stable if he is projected to the same role the following year.

Plays in “single” coverage are more stable, whether the player is in pure man-to-man or simply matching up one-on-one from a zone concept.

Another way to isolate how a coverage player has been helped or hurt by his surroundings is using coverage grade when a QB is in a clean pocket and on plays in which the pass is out in 3.0 seconds or less. Both situations are among the most common for defensive backs, and a low percentage of targets in these situations suggests some kind of help from his pass rushers or opponents.

Forced incompletion rate is relatively stable from season to season, making it an important number when projecting future performance.

DeJean’s percentile ranks in the most stable defensive stats since 2021.

DeJean followed up his impressive 2022 campaign with a 77.4 PFF grade in 2023. His best work comes from the slot, where he’s been the highest-graded player since 2021, allowing just 0.33 yards per coverage snap.

The Iowa standout allowed just a 52.8 passer rating on throws into his coverage over his career — he is a true lockdown corner.

He put doubts about his health to rest after running a 4.44-second 40-yard dash and posting a 10-foot-4 broad jump after recovering from the fractured fibula that ended his 2023 season.

BOTTOM LINE FROM PFF's 2024 NFL DRAFT GUIDE

The talk of DeJean playing outside cornerback or safety or slot cornerback at the next level is not due to lack of a home position; it's because he could truly be an impact player anywhere.

His footwork, ball skills and explosive athleticism make him an impactful outside cornerback — one with All-Pro potential.

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