Iowa football's Cooper DeJean picking up early first-round projections for 2024 NFL Draft

Dargan Southard
Des Moines Register

After a strong showing in the 2023 NFL Draft that saw four Hawkeyes picked in the first three rounds, Iowa football could make plenty more noise in 2024.

Multiple outlets have pegged Iowa's do-it-all defensive back Cooper DeJean as a first-round selection in next year's NFL Draft. The Athletic's Dane Brugler has DeJean going No. 21 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars in his way-too-early projection, while Pro Football Focus has the Iowa cornerback going No. 16 overall to the Denver Broncos in its way-too-early mock draft.

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"After taking Riley Moss in the third round of this year’s draft, the Broncos select another Iowa defensive back here," PFF's analysis reads. "DeJean is the most versatile corner in college football. He can excel both in coverage and as a run-defender either on the outside or as a slot corner. DeJean was the only corner in the country with 85-plus grades both in coverage and in run defense. His five interceptions tied for fourth among Power Five corners while his 15 run-defense stops tied for the most among all FBS ones."

Obviously, just based on the headlines of these projections, there is a lot to be decided between now and next April. But the fact DeJean already has that much buzz after only one season in the starting lineup says a lot about the expectations the former OABCIG star will carry into his 2023 campaign with the Hawkeyes.

DeJean finished 2022 with 75 tackles, three TFLs and five interceptions — three of which were returned for touchdowns. Ample contributions on special teams only added to DeJean's versatility. Much of the same is expected in 2023, as DeJean becomes Iowa's most seasoned defensive back with the ability to play just about every spot on Phil Parker's backend.

Dargan Southard is a sports trending reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and Email him at