Jaguars won't be able to watch Cooper DeJean test at the NFL Scouting Combine

• The Jaguars won't get to scout top CB prospect Cooper DeJean perform drills at the scouting combine.

Oct 21, 2023; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Cooper DeJean (3) reacts during the
Oct 21, 2023; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Cooper DeJean (3) reacts during the / Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars could use some cornerback help this offseason and Iowa's Cooper DeJean will be one of the best ones available in the 2024 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, he won't be participating in this year's NFL Scouting Combine. This wouldn't normally be an issue but DeJean is coming off a leg injury, so the Jags won't have the chance to see how his recovery is going. That said, skipping position drills shouldn't hurt his stock much.

DeJean won't be testing at the combine and will instead work out for teams closer to the draft, per Dan Brugler of The Athletic. Despite the leg injury in 2023, he's the top cornerback in Mel Kiper's big board and the No. 4 in Daniel Jeremiah's list of top 50 prospects.

In DeJean's case, it makes sense to wait to perform at his pro day. After all, he's still not fully recovered from the leg injury. Then again, it's not unusual for the top prospects to skip the combine, since they can no longer boost their stock and run the risk of getting hurt while working out. Some analysts think the First-Team All-Big 10 should switch to safety but he's got the traits to play cornerback at a high level in the NFL.

While DeJean's hip fluidity isn't great and he can get lost in the route stem, Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire points out that he excels at jumping routes. Moreover, he's got the strength and speed to play both man and zone coverage. Here's some of what Farrar had to say about the Consensus All-American:

"Unfortunately, DeJean suffered a lower leg injury in mid-November, which ended his 2023 season early and will prevent him from working out at the combine. But as they say, tape don’t lie, and DeJean’s tape is full of compelling reasons to take him seriously as a first-round cornerback prospect who can shut things down outside and in the slot"

That kind of versatility would be great in defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen's scheme. In fact, Kiper has mocked DeJean to the Jaguars at No. 17.

Why it would make sense for the Jaguars to draft Cooper DeJean

The Jaguars have a pair of boundary cornerbacks in Darious Williams and Tyson Campbell. The former played at a Pro Bowl-caliber level last season and the latter was an ascending talent before the injury bug struck. Both Williams and Campbell will become free agents next year, so the team's brass may want to address the position before it's too late. Having DeJean in the fold would provide insurance in case either leaves in 2025.

On top of that, it's uncertain whether Williams or Campbell will fit Ryan Neilsen's press-heavy scheme. Cooper DeJean didn't play much man in college but Doug Farrar believes he could thrive in it at the NFL level, noting that he has "unlocked potential as a press/match, DB".

You could make the case that the offensive line, the interior defensive line, and even wide receiver are bigger needs than cornerback this offseason. However, they could address the first two in late rounds of the draft or even free agency. Furthermore, wide receiver won't be as much of a priority if the front office manages to re-sign Clavin Ridley and retain Zay Jones.

Now, Cooper DeJean won't probably be the only top cornerback available at No. 17 but he's someone the Jacksonville Jaguars will most likely keep their eye on. The fact that general manager Trent Baalke hasn't previously shied away from taking players with past injuries makes him a potential target in the first round.

Here are more stories from Black & Teal: