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Iowa Football: Cooper DeJean to “America’s Team” in new NFL mock draft

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IOWA CITY, Iowa– Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean is off to the NFL. Over the past several weeks, DeJean has been preparing for the NFL Draft and is likely a first-round pick. DeJean did miss Iowa’s final four games due to an injury suffered in practice. 

On Monday, CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson released his updated version of his mock draft. DeJean, who has been hovering between picks 18-28, has a new home in the updated version. Wilson believes that DeJean will be drafted No. 24 overall by the Dallas Cowboys. 

“The ball-hawking DeJean can line up just about anywhere (and he’s an asset in the return game, too) and that versatility and rare athleticism are what make him such an enticing prospect,” Wilson said. 

DeJean finished the season with 41 tackles, two TFL, two interceptions and five pass break-ups in 10 games. DeJean did not allow a touchdown pass in 388 snaps in coverage in 2023. He was second on the Hawkeyes in pass break-ups (5), is second in interceptions (2) and seventh in tackles (41) this season. One of his two interceptions thwarted a scoring threat in the end zone against Michigan State.  

It’s possible that DeJean’s stock could continue to soar following the NFL Combine. DeJean is a freakish athlete and is versatile in multiple facets of the game. When he wasn’t locking down one side of the field, DeJean emerged as one of the most dynamic returners in all of college football. 

“Any time No. 3 gets the ball, I just look to the end zone,” linebacker Jay Higgins said. “He’s a special guy. You don’t want to see him in space. Coop and space equals good for the Hawkeyes.”

It was a back-and-forth decision for DeJean when it came to what he was going to do. There was a hometown lure to staying a Hawkeye one more season, but that speaks to the type of culture that Kirk Ferentz has established. 

“Staying around these guys. I chose to stay here after surgery because that was best for me to still be involved. Being around the guys… that’s what’s most fun to me about playing college football,” DeJean said during his final media availability. “Being around these guys and enjoying our time together while being serious about football each and every day. It’s definitely been tough, but I’ve tried to stay engaged.” 

For now, Iowa’s ability to churn out top defensive backs prospects should continue to serve them well on the recruiting trail and the tradition that defensive coordinator Phil Parker has established throughout his tenure. 

“He has great ball skills. Some catches that he makes during practice are what I call freakish,” Parker previously said. “You know what I mean? One-handers behind and all this stuff. You say I’m sure he can play multiple positions, but he is definitely mature enough, a hard worker. Always in the film room or always working.”

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