The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Point/Counterpoint | Will Cooper DeJean declare for the NFL Draft?

While sports reporter Brad Schultz argues for the cornerback’s athletic prowess and his departure from the Hawkeyes, assistant sports editor Colin Votzmeyer believes otherwise.
Iowa+defensive+back+Cooper+DeJean+returns+the+ball+during+the+2023+Wildcats+Classic%2C+a+football+game+between+Iowa+and+Northwestern+at+Wrigley+Field+in+Chicago%2C+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+4%2C+2023.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Wildcats%2C+10-7.+
Ayrton Breckenridge
Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean returns the ball during the 2023 Wildcats Classic, a football game between Iowa and Northwestern at Wrigley Field in Chicago, on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 10-7.

Yes

Without a doubt, Cooper DeJean will go down as one of — if not the most — electric players to ever don the Black and Gold on the football field.

After seeing limited action in his first year as a Hawkeye, DeJean broke onto the scene last year with five interceptions — including three pick-sixes.

This season, DeJean has maintained his status as an elite playmaker, not only as a defensive back but also as a punt returner.

Unfortunately, he suffered an injury during practice ahead of the Illinois game on Nov. 19, which ended his season prematurely. Since the injury, though, national pundits have projected DeJean as a mid-first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

DeJean is only a third-year, so he does have the option to return to Iowa if he wants. However, I think he will have a hard time passing up an opportunity to play at the professional level, and he will declare for the draft following this season.

First, DeJean’s injury, while certainly not career-threatening, does raise an eyebrow. If he returns to the Hawkeyes, a future injury could destroy any hopes of a pro career. He will want to get to the NFL as soon as possible to prevent that from happening.

The biggest reason why DeJean will declare is the fact that he will again most likely not get many passes toward his side of the field, similar to this season, because quarterbacks are simply afraid to throw his way. How can he show off his abilities with minimal opportunities to make plays?

The same scenario hurt former Hawkeye All-American corner Desmond King in 2016. The season prior, King tied the NCAA record with eight interceptions and could have been a first-round pick in the upcoming draft.

King chose to stay loyal to Iowa and play one final season for head coach Kirk Ferentz, and teams refused to throw the ball his way, so King fell to the fifth round. I’m afraid DeJean could be in the same predicament should he stay.

As much as I would love to see DeJean return for one final year, there is too much money on the line, and a bright professional career awaits ahead of him, so I think he’ll make the leap to the NFL next year.

No

June 7, 2009, is a day that will go down in infamy in sports history. After the Lakers went up, 2-0, in that year’s NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant sternly told the media, “Job not finished.”

Cooper DeJean must be thinking the same thing.

The third-year defensive back is undoubtedly the standout star on this Iowa football team. Not only are quarterbacks afraid to throw the ball in his direction for his impressive reads and speed on the defensive side of the ball, but DeJean’s athleticism has demonstrated potential on special teams and offense as well.

Such prowess is sure to attract a handful of NFL teams wanting DeJean in their rotations, but I don’t think he is ready to give that to a professional football team just yet.

It’s not that the Odebolt, Iowa, local isn’t ready for the NFL. It’s that his job at Iowa is not yet finished.

DeJean was a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, given to the top defensive player in college football, as well as the Jim Thorpe Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy this season before his leg injury cut his junior campaign short.

He’s sniffed such hardware this season, and he’ll undoubtedly want more than just a semifinalist nod next season to not only make his lasting mark on his college career at Iowa but also to further boost his NFL Draft stock, as the prospect of an injury may have dragged it down.

Anyone who has spoken to DeJean would agree he’s not a selfish person. He’s in it for this Iowa football team — a team he has represented since his childhood.

This Iowa defense could have a lot of returners for next year, and because defensive coordinator Phil Parker is evidently in his prime after this year’s defensive effort, it can only improve next season. Additionally, the Iowa offense will have a lot more potential next season with the return of quarterback Cade McNamara.

DeJean will not want to miss out on leading a team like that.

With Iowa adding the likes of football powerhouses Washington, Oregon, and USC to the Big Ten next season, such competition will only boost DeJean’s draft stock as he truly proves he can dominate the best of the best on the gridiron.

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About the Contributors
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
(he/him/his)
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Colin Votzmeyer, Assistant Sports Editor
he/him/his
Colin Votzmeyer is a junior at the University of Iowa studying journalism and mass communication with minors in history and criminology, law, and justice. Prior to his role as assistant sports editor, he previously served as digital producer, news reporter covering crime, cops, and courts, and sports reporter covering track and field and women's basketball. He plans on attending law school after his graduation with hopes of pursuing a career as a criminal defense attorney.
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
(he/him/his)
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.