2024 Atlanta Falcons Potential Draft Pick Profile: CB/S Cooper DeJean

Adding Cooper DeJean to the Atlanta Falcons secondary as either a safety or a cornerback would be a fantastic move.
Western Michigan v Iowa
Western Michigan v Iowa / Matthew Holst/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Falcons are in the market for a No. 2 cornerback or even a starting strong safety, and Cooper DeJean could be a guy who can play either spot in an NFL defense. He's exceptional in coverage and a great athlete that can be a chess piece for a defense that's going to be heavy in zone. DeJean also shows skills as a potential return specialist, but he might be too valuable as a safety or cornerback to be a returner at the next level.

Cooper DeJean

University of Iowa

Cornerback/Safety


Athletic Comparison and Numbers

The best athletic comparison for Cooper DeJean is Xavien Howard. Howard was a Pro Bowl cornerback for the Dolphins during his time with them, and could even potentially be an option as a future Atlanta Falcon himself. This athletic comparison shows that DeJean has the same kind of athleticism that he has is good enough to play cornerback in the NFL. DeJean shows his athleticism on tape as well with how he flies around the field in coverage or how he can return a ball for a touchdown from anywhere he gets his hands on a ball.


Stats and Awards

2023: 10 Games Played, 41 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 2 Interceptions, 5 Pass Deflections, 21 Punt Returns, 241 Yards, 1 Touchdown, 1 Carry, 8 Yards, First-Team All-American, Nagurski Trophy Finalist, Thorpe Award Finalist, Bednarik Semifinalist, Lott IMPACT Trophy Semifinalist, Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year, First Team All-Big Ten
2022: 13 Games Played, 75 Tackles, 3.0 Tackles for Loss, 5 Interceptions, 8 Pass Deflections, 3 Defensive Touchdowns, 10 Punt Returns, 165 Yards, Music City Bowl MVP, Reggie Roby Special Teams Award, Team Hustle Award, First-Team All-Big Ten,
2021: 7 Games Played, 4 Tackles, 1 Kick Return, 20 Yards, Next Man In Award


Highlight Reel


Scouting Report

Strengths

Cooper DeJean's biggest strength is his versatility to play any of the five primary secondary spots effectively. Very few players are able to do that. He's one of the most instinctual players in zone coverage and will create a ton of plays as a ball hawk for his defense. He's always around the ball and has fantastic deep ball tracking. He tracks the ball well and loves to separate the receiver from the ball. He also plays all aspects of the defense and special teams units so he is able to contribute early.

Weaknesses

The biggest weaknesses in DeJeans game come from his stiffness in his hips that shows up in man coverage. That can be overcome with a full-time move to safety long-term. He's got some issues covering too deep because of it as well, though. There are times he misses tacklers because of poor tackling technique, and doesn't do well when he's asked to take down backs and receivers that are larger and longer than he is.


Intangibles & Off-Field Red Flags

The Iowa Hawkeye played multiple sports in high school including baseball, basketball and track and those skills are all transferrable. They show up in his proficiency in zone defense, his ability to track a ball and his high level of athleticism. He was a leader for the Hawkeyes defense as more of the mentor role than as a true vocal captain. His personality is quieter than what would be expected of a captain per The Gazette's John Steppe. This will fit in well with the Falcons mentality that head coach Raheem Morris will be looking to create in Atlanta.

NFL Stylistic Comparison: Budda Baker

Much like Budda Baker, Cooper DeJean can play any spot in the secondary and be effective in that role. Baker has made a career as a free safety once he found his perfect role, but early in his career, he was playing as a nickel, outside corner and even strong safety in addition to a free safety role. Teams will love how DeJean can mimic this throughout his career with more natural athleticism than what the Cardinals safety has.


How does he fit in with the Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons would likely have to trade up into the early 20's to get DeJean onto the roster. He'd likely be tried out as a No. 2 cornerback early in his career, but could be a strong safety as early as this season as well. The Falcons will figure out early on where he would fit best. They'd likely also figure out that he is a quality returner who could be a good depth piece as a return specialist and compete for a spot there as well. He'd also be a special teams gunner early on as well.

All advanced stats are courtesy Pro Football Focus or Football Outsiders. All traditional stats are courtesy of official team websites, NFLGSIS or CFB Stats. All RAS and athletic testing numbers are courtesy of DraftScout.com and Kent Lee Platte's RAS Football website.