Eagles Rookie Could Be Starter In The Slot: "I'm Here To Play Football"

He has shown versatility but the Eagles want to find a home for him, and the slot could very well be it.
Eagles rookie Cooper DeJean
Eagles rookie Cooper DeJean / By Ed Kracz/SI Eagles
In this story:

PHILADELPHIA – Cooper DeJean wants to eat as much as possible, but neither he nor the Eagles defensive coaches want their versatile defensive back to get indigestion, so the second-round pick spent the spring bouncing between the slot and outside cornerback, but not safety.

When training camp opens on July 23, with the first practice likely being July 24, DeJean may add those safety reps to his repertoire.

“I'm just trying to take in and learn different things right now, inside and outside,” the rookie from Iowa said. “I don't have a problem with having a lot on my plate. I'm here to play football and learn football.

“The more positions I can learn I feel like it helps me out on the field when I'm at one of those positions. You know, knowing what those other positions are doing and where I can get my help.”

DeJean will challenge to start in the slot, ahead of Avonte Maddox and Tyler Hall, and it’s a challenge he seems well up to the task in doing. And the thinking here is he will be the starter.

Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean (3) catches a punt at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, October 21, 2023 in Iowa City. DeJean returned the punt for a touchdown and it was later called back after review ruled he fair-caught the punt.
Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean (3) catches a punt at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, October 21, 2023 in Iowa City. DeJean returned the punt for a touchdown and it was later called back after review ruled he fair-caught the punt. / Lily Smith/The Register / USA TODAY

“I think Coop is very...he's very versatile,” said Christian Parker, the Eagles’ first-year defensive backs coach. “I think he plays with good vision to the ball. I think that he has good ball skills so we're kind of in that process now.

“You know, we've moved him around a little bit, he can handle it mentally and I think as we move on through this phase right now and going into training camp then he'll have a home but he's been he's playing corner, he's playing nickel, you know, he's handling those things well and we'll continue to put more on his plate and see how he can handle it.”

That said, Parker wants to try to find a home for Cooper, one spot in particular where he can settle in and be comfortable, which is why it makes sense that the slot, for now, will that spot.

It’s a winnable job, whereas DeJean would have to find a way to start opposite Darius Slay, and that battle is shaping up to be a good one between rookie Quinyon Mitchell, second-year-man Kelee Ringo, and veteran Isaiah Rodgers.

"We've talked about it, not wanting to put too much on my plate,” said DeJean, about finding one position to play above all others to start out. “Trying to figure out, you know, where my home will be. Whether that's one or two positions, just trying to figure those out, get those down, being able to learn more after that?”

Added Parker: “You don't want to take advantage of an intelligent football player because you do want him to play fast, so, we're never going to put him in a situation where he has to learn a million jobs and he can't be really good at one.”

Parker said that many of the concepts installed this spring are similar to those DeJean used at Iowa, and that has helped. And it is yet another reason DeJean is a heavy favorite to start in the slot when the Eagles open the season in Brazil

More NFL: Eagles Five Best Nonstarters Include 3 on Defense and 2 on Offense


Published
Ed Kracz

ED KRACZ

Ed Kracz has been covering the Eagles full-time for over a decade and has written about Philadelphia sports since 1996. He wrote about the Phillies in the 2008 and 2009 World Series, the Flyers in their 2010 Stanely Cup playoff run to the finals, and was in Minnesota when the Eagles secured their first-ever Super Bowl win in 2017. Ed has received multiple writing awards as a sports journalist, including several top-five finishes in the Associated Press Sports Editors awards.