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Eagles trade up to get big play Iowa defensive back

PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles hit the defensive back position hard again on the second day of the draft, swinging a trade to get Cooper DeJean.

The Birds on Friday sent both of their second-round picks and a fifth rounder to the Washington Commanders to move from 50 to 40 for the Iowa defensive back with speed, size and playmaking ability.

With cornerback Quinyon Mitchell already getting a call, it’s the first time the Eagles selected defensive backs with their first two picks since 2002, when they took cornerback Lito Sheppard and safety Michael Lewis off the board in the first and second rounds. The Eagles also drafted cornerback Sheldon Brown in the second round of that lottery.

DeJean (6-0½, 203) had first round draft grades but slipped because this wasn’t the strongest defensive back class, and he was coming off a fractured right fibula sustained at an Iowa practice. It limited him to 10 games last season. First-round rated cornerback Kool Aid McKinstry of Alabama still was on the board when the Birds moved up for DeJean.

“All I wanted was an opportunity to play,” DeJean said on a conference call. “Obviously there was a little frustration yesterday but I’m excited with where I’m at being in Philadelphia, being able to play for a great organization. I’m excited to get started there and get rolling and get back to playing football. I’m tired of this pre-draft process.”

DeJean’s ball tracking skills and speed are unquestioned. At a personal workout he clocked 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, a nasty 38.5-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot-4 broad jump.

During the 2022 season DeJean intercepted five passes, taking three to the house. The big question with him is role. Outside corner, slot and safety all are in play with the Eagles.

“They talked to me about all three positions,” DeJean said. “I don’t have a preference. I’m a football player. You put me on the field I’m going to go play football whether it’s inside, outside at safety, wherever it is. I think it’s a great thing being able to play multiple positions. Being able to impact the game from different spots. I think it’s a good thing for any team to have a guy that’s versatile and be able to play multiple positions.”

DeJean insists he’s physically ready to go, that if there was a game today, he’d be in the lineup.

Interestingly, DeJean participated in a higher level of competition than Mitchell, who he doesn’t know personally yet is acquainted with enough to text congratulations to the Toledo corner the Birds drafted Thursday.

DeJean went against several talented receivers, including Marvin Harrison Jr. of Ohio State, the fourth overall pick in this draft.

“I covered him when we played him my sophomore year,” DeJean said. “Playing in the Big 10, it’s a pretty physical game. That’s what I love about the game of football, how physical it is and being able to go out and hit people each and every down. Having those matchups on the outside as well. But also, being able to come downhill and be an impact in the run game as well. I think playing at Iowa has prepared me well for the next level.”

Growing up in Odebolt, Iowa, DeJean developed his playmaking skills playing quarterback in high school. The Eagles like his punt return abilities.

DeJean set the Iowa single-season record with three pick-sixes in 2022 and was MVP of the Music City Bowl. This past season he had two picks and a touchdown on a punt return before hurting his leg.

In a few weeks DeJean will be getting acquainted with Mitchell and the rest of the Eagles.

“I’m excited to get to know him and get to play with him along with other guys who are already there in Philadelphia,” DeJean said. “I’m excited for that, excited to get back out there and play some ball.”

• • •

Mitchell had 46 career pass breakups at Toledo, including an FBS-high 20 in 2022 to go with four interceptions. There is YouTube footage of him defending Harrison Jr., who caught a fade on him for a TD.

Some of the Eagles already are saying their hellos.

“Jalen Hurts texted me last night and wished me good luck,” Mitchell said. “He congratulated me, and I thank him for that.”

• • •

After trading picks 50 and 53 to move up to No. 40 to get DeJean, the Eagles turned the 78th pick into No. 94 and picked up two fourth rounders (123 and 132) to boot.

The Eagles then selected linebacker Jalyx Hunt of Houston Christian University at No. 94.

Hunt (6-4, 252) is a transfer from Cornell, where he played safety for three years. With 34 1/2-inch arms and 10-inch hands, he has the size to be an interesting 3-4 linebacker.

Hunt had nine tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and one interception returned for a TD last season.

Source: Berkshire mont

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