2 - Cornerback
Perhaps no single position needs greater addressing on the Arizona Cardinals than the cornerback room. Marco Wilson and Kei’trel Clark have consistently looked overmatched this season. Even if Garrett Williams is able to consistently perform like he did in his debut, the Cardinals still need a shutdown cornerback in order to elevate the defense.
There are quite a few cornerbacks who have found themselves in conversations regarding the top of the draft. Among them are Kalen King of Penn State and Kool Aid McKinstry of Alabama; however, the cornerback who is going to get the spotlight here is Iowa CB Cooper Dejean.
Dejean is by far the most exciting player to watch on an Iowa Hawkeyes team devoid of explosive plays. Like Jared Verse, Cooper Dejean got the NFL’s attention with a strong 2022 season. In his sophomore season Dejean recorded five interceptions and returned three of them for defensive touchdowns. Pairing his defensive prowess along with his game-breaking ability as a returner was enough for him to earn first team All-American honors.
In 2023 Cooper Dejean has been a massive reason why Iowa has been able to remain competitive despite a lifeless offense. Through six games he has two interceptions and a punt return for a touchdown. If not for a controversial call at the end of game versus Minnesota, Dejean would have had a probable game winning touchdown to his name as well.
Pro Football Network’s scouting report by Ian Cummings emphasizes that his primary strengths are his athleticism, adaptability, and discipline. He has a natural understanding of zone coverage, and his strong body type makes him intriguing in press coverage and as an open field tackler. Dejean also has proven track speed, completing the 100-meter sprint in just 10.71 seconds. For comparison, this time is within the recruiting standards for Division 1 track and field athletics.
Dejean is currently slotted as a mid first-round draft pick who is in contention to be the first cornerback selected. If the Texans keep outperforming their preseason projections, then the Arizona Cardinals could find themselves in range to select the Iowa star. His skillset fits what Jonathan Gannon normally looks for in defensive players, so he should be a player on every fan’s radar.