The 2024 NFL Draft might be loaded with offensive talent, but Packers’ fans could once again see the team go defense in the first round.

What looked like a promising Green Bay secondary just a couple years ago now presents itself (again… again) as arguably the most troubling unit on the roster.

Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean (6’0, 203 lbs.) has emerged as a popular mock selection for the Packers at pick 25 in the 2024 NFL Draft. Rated as the 8th overall player on Pro Football Focus’ 2024 NFL Draft Big Board, DeJean is coming off a broken fibula and did not perform workouts at the NFL Combine.

Despite being unable to participate in combine workouts, DeJean is highly regarded as one of the most freakishly athletic players on the defensive side of this 2024 NFL Draft class. He’ll almost surely be a first-round selection, but is it one the Packers should make?


DeJean’s best skills were on full display in Iowa’s zone-heavy defense. His best skill is passing off zone assignments during the play, much of which I think can be attributed to his eyes that are always on the QB. DeJean’s tape is full of plays where he passes his man off to another defender, then sprints to the QB’s next read and blows up the play. In any given four-second play, DeJean can cover multiple areas of the field with quick feet and fluid hips.

Initial impressions watching DeJean, for better or worse, are that his best skills may translate best to another position. Consistent eyes on the quarterback, instincts to quickly break on passes, solid run defense, and exceptional experience and ability to play zone coverage often make DeJean look like a great safety stuck playing outside CB.

DeJean’s playstyle evokes a sense of command, and at times it’s almost unfortunate having to watch him patrol just one side of the field. Two things make a whole lot of sense when it comes to the Packers and Cooper DeJean: Safety is an ever bigger need than CB, and Green Bay loves them some guys who can play multiple positions – and new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley would love to have a proficient zone defender like DeJean in his scheme.

This isn’t to say DeJean in incapable of playing an outside or even slot CB role, as his natural instincts and physical talent appear potent enough to make noise anywhere. However, there are some flaws to DeJean’s game that could potentially lower his stock as one of the top couple CBs in this NFL draft.


Most plays you see DeJean being beat, especially for sizeable gains, he’ll be in man coverage. The beautiful and tragic trait DeJean possesses is that his eyes rarely leave the QB. This is great for effective zone coverage, but in man-to-man defense, he’ll too often lose sight of his assignment and get caught several steps behind the route. Sometimes his athleticism allows him to make up for these mistakes, but not always.

DeJean wants to be a physical corner but often does so by grabbing and pulling at the receiver in instances that will be called penalties in the NFL 90% of the time. NFL coaching may be able to teach him to initiate contact closer to the line of scrimmage at the receiver’s release, and not once he feels like he’s been beaten or the ball is thrown.

Even an average QB in the NFL right now would eat DeJean alive if he’s in man coverage. DeJean relies so heavily on instincts and quick reaction that an NFL QB who knows how to manipulate coverages with his eyes will fool DeJean into making a false step and giving up a big play. DeJean looks like a smart player, but he’ll need to have good coaching and study a lot of film to learn how to make the next move in this “battle of eyes” game he likes to play with the QB.


Cooper DeJean is an undoubtedly talented player who, at worst, should fall to the mid-to-early second round of the 2024 NFL Draft. His upside and what he does well are so good, though, that I’d be surprised to see him fall out of the first round.

DeJean is just too good a fit for the Packers to not at least consider with their first-round pick. His ball-hawking instincts and natural ability to play zone coverage fit nicely with the Packers’ new defensive scheme as well as giving the team options for where to play him in the secondary.

The bad is cause for concern, but the good in DeJean’s game isn’t just good, it’s great.

I’m feeling a B grade for DeJean, but for the Packers specifically, I’m teetering on a B+.

Grade: B


Liam O’Donnell is a devoted Packers fan and an aspiring sportswriter from Milwaukee. He writes for and you can follow him on twitter at @liamodonnell___.