Packers GM may have accidentally revealed top target in 2024 NFL Draft

Green Bay Packers, Brian Gutekunst
Green Bay Packers, Brian Gutekunst / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean is far and away the most popular draft target among Green Bay Packers fans. DeJean has consistently been picked for the Packers in mock drafts all offseason.

And there's good reason for it. DeJean has the athleticism, production, and versatility the Packers covet. He plays a premium position, which Green Bay prioritizes in Round 1, and could also fill a glaring void in the secondary.

Most of DeJean's snaps in college came at cornerback, but he showed off his versatility by playing in the slot and even safety. Where he fits in an NFL defense depends on the vision of his defensive coordinator. In Green Bay, he could do a bit of everything in a similar way to how Micah Hyde was used in the Packers' defense.

It's easy to see why DeJean is such a popular pick for Green Bay, but none of that matters if general manager Brian Gutekunst doesn't share that enthusiasm.

Fortunately, it sounds like he does.

Packers GM couldn't contain his love for first-round target Cooper DeJean

DeJean's name came up in the Packers' pre-draft press conference. Gutekunst was asked whether he believes the Iowa star best fits at cornerback or safety in the NFL. Later, a reporter asked Gutekunst what he's looking for at the safety position. Compare his answers to both.

First, here is Gutekunst's answer to DeJean playing cornerback or safety:

"I think he can do both. I think he's very versatile that way," said Gutekunst. "I think he's, obviously, a very good athlete. His ability to take the ball away is very impressive. He's got some teams ability as well, so he's a very well-rounded player. I think he can do either. It's really going to come down to where you may need him."

Gutekunst's next answer about what he's looking for at safety matches his description of DeJean.

"Those guys, I'd love to be interchangeable. I'd like them to be able to do everything," said Gutekunst. "That's really tough on an offense when those guys can move down inside, they can play the post, they can go in the nickel and cover. When you have two guys who can do everything, it will allow Jeff [Hafley] to be much more efficient."

In other words, Gutekunst is looking for a player like DeJean. And there aren't many prospects with his potential and versatility in this year's class.

Whether DeJean falls to No. 25 is another question—the latest NFL Mock Draft Database consensus board has him ranked 19th. But if Gutekunst has proven anything across his six draft classes, it's that he won't hesitate to trade up for a prospect he believes in.

Gutekunst has stressed the need for versatility in the secondary on multiple occasions. DeJean would make so much sense in Round 1. Not only can he play every spot in the defensive backfield, but he was also a highly productive player in college, making seven interceptions and 13 pass defenses in his final two seasons. DeJean is also an outstanding athlete with an RAS of 9.89 out of 10.

Gutekunst is no stranger to drafting Iowa defenders. Last year, he selected DeJean's former teammate, Lukas Van Ness, in the first round. In 2018, the Packers picked cornerback Josh Jackson on Day 2.

DeJean could play a major role on defense and special teams immediately. Based on Gutekunst's comments, it sounds like the Packers are as confident in him as the rest of us.

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