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2024 NFL Draft

Versatile DB Cooper DeJean Flying up Boards, Could Steelers be the Team?

Iowa’s Cooper DeJean is a defensive back chess piece and could end up becoming a player that can do a little bit of everything for them.



Steelers Iowa CB Cooper DeJean

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a unique position in their defense that almost requires a chess piece. From Cam Sutton to Patrick Peterson, those two players have become the all-encompassing chess piece the team has used in the secondary over the last six or seven seasons. They play outside, in the slot, safety, and some dimebacker, too. And there is a potential solution in the 2024 NFL Draft. Iowa’s Cooper DeJean has played all over the field for the Hawkeyes.

A fantastic athlete, DeJean has dynamic athleticism that sticks out and allows him to play in all areas of the field. And while he primarily worked at either slot cornerback or outside cornerback, there has been talk of moving him to safety. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah would go a different route, instead embracing the versatility that DeJean has, and he believes he is a first-round pick.

“I think he can play anywhere. That’s one of the things I love about him. You are drafting a big-time athlete who has just got — he has football instincts. He has ball skills,” Jeremiah said on a conference call with reporters. “At corner there’s one — just one little thing that bothered me a little bit. I just think there’s a little bit of a pause in his transition, but I’m probably nitpicking a little bit there. To me I like the fact of having a guy that you could play — he could play nickel and be a big, physical nickel. You could play him as a high safety, let him do that. I think you kind of sort it out. I hate saying it this way, but you almost sort it out when you get him there and see who you have got. He allows you, almost like an offensive lineman that is versatile, to get your best five DBs on the field because of his versatility and athleticism to be able to play in any spot. I wouldn’t pigeon-hole him into corner or nickel or safety at this point in time.”

DeJean will not test next week in Indy. He suffered a practice injury to his lower leg late in the 2023 season that ended his year and is still rehabbing.

The crazily athletic DeJean may try to run at Iowa’s pro day next month. His usual athleticism for his size (6-foot-1, 207 pounds) are a big part of the selling point of the productive corner. He had seven interceptions in his college career, returning three for touchdowns, and also returned punts for the Hawkeyes.

DeJean projects as someone who will go in the back end of the first round, and the Steelers feel like one of the teams that could bite, mainly due to his schematic fit.