Share & Comment:

Mock Draft Monday: The Steelers look to add a position-flexible cornerback

The Pittsburgh Steelers are rolling through the 2024 offseason. With free agency greatly affecting roster construction, it will be followed by the NFL draft in April. For the Steelers, the events since the beginning of the league year have changed their draft needs multiple times. With player pro days rolling on, team’s big boards will continue to take shape before the draft.

When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, one first has to first identify the team’s main needs for the offseason. Before any gains or losses in free agency, there are some who wanted to see the Steelers go with either offensive line or defensive line with their first-round pick. Others feel inside linebacker or cornerback could be on top of the list. In the midst of free agency, other positions such as wide receiver or even quarterback have been discussed. With plenty of chances for the Steelers to shape their roster prior to April, their goal is usually to get into position to draft the best player available rather than target a specific position. When it comes to what position the team will select with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.

In the latest one-round mock draft by (in order to find new players to cover, it sometimes takes looking at some lesser-profile mocks), they have the Steelers addressing the cornerback position before anything else. The Steelers still have questions at the position outside of Joey Porter Jr. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first selection, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.

Check out the Steelers 20th pick:

20. Pittsburgh Steelers | Cooper DeJean | CB | Iowa | JR |

Even as the draft process rolls on, there may be some players most fans are not familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of DeJean according to

Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa


  • Height: 6’0.5”
  • Weight: 203 pounds
  • Arm Length: 31 1/8″
  • Hand Size: 9 5/8″


  • Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist (2023)
  • Jim Thorpe Award finalist (2023)
  • Consensus All-American (2023)


  • Versatility
  • Tenacious
  • Trigger
  • Ball skills
  • Run game


  • Hips
  • Comfortability with back to QB
  • Transitions

Film Analysis: 

Cooper DeJean is an athletic perimeter defender whose tenaciousness in coverage and as a run defender provides an intriguing skill set as a prospect. As a zone defender, DeJean showcases an excellent trigger and ability to align at a variety of depths. He displays quick feet in his backpedal and can align with his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and in side-saddle technique with his back to the sideline. His seven interceptions the last two seasons showcase his ability to get out of breaks quickly when working downhill, often providing little to no room for quarterbacks. He has quick twitch in lower half despite tight hips and elongated transitions at times. Excellent eyes and awareness in the zone put him in a position to succeed against offenses that target crossers. 

In man, DeJean can run into trouble against more sudden route-runners where stiff hips become apparent. Larger framed targets can give him issues as well. Physical with the ball in the air and extremely nuanced when using the sideline as an extra defender, but can become uncomfortable with his back turned to the QB. Speed is not a concern, although medicals (leg injury in 2023) throughout the process will remain key to a final projection. 

DeJean shines against the run. He’s quick to stack and shed blockers with heavy hands. Intelligent. Clean pursuit angles, as well. Sure tackler that arrives with a sneaky amount of pop in his pads.

Overall, DeJean is a high-level zone defender whose comfortability in space showcases an athlete who has the chance to make plays on the football early in his career. While an increased amount of flexibility in the lower half is warranted to counter quicker, more fluid route-runners in man coverage, DeJean’s ability to impact the game in a variety of ways (including special teams) should pave the way for a large number of snaps early on in his career. 

Prospect Projection: Day 2 – Winning Starter

For all you who are preparing yourself for the draft, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Cooper DeJean with their first pick? Or do you feel there is a better player at this position, a different one who may still be available, or that DeJean will not make it to the 20th pick? Personally, I’m not sure how well DeJean pairs with Joey Porter Jr. as a first-round draft pick. If it was a cornerback the Steelers were getting later and gave quality play that would be something completely different, but to invest the capital in the first-round pick who isn’t a press-man coverage guy might not be something they’re interested in doing. But if the Steelers do like DeJean and will make him work in this defense and are convinced he’s the guy, I wouldn’t be upset. And while I have seen DeJean going in the 15-25 range, there were other options I liked better in this particular mock draft.


Sign up below for the latest news, stories and podcasts from our affiliates

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.