Packers Urged to Trade Up in 2024 NFL Draft

The Green Bay Packers have quickly ascended into the realm of legitimate Super Bowl contenders in the NFC thanks to Jordan Love emerging as a top quarterback and a pair of gutsy additions by general manager Brian Gutekunst in free agency.

Brian Gutekunst, Người đóng gói

Signing Xavier McKinney and essentially swapping Josh Jacobs for Aaron Jones at running back have been hailed as two of the stronger moves made league-wide this offseason.

However, Gutekunst’s work isn’t done and the Packers may be able to add some star power during the NFL Draft to a secondary that’s already been bolstered by safety McKinney’s arrival as a centerpiece in defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley’s secondary.

Given that Hafley’s scheme is predicated on dominant defensive back play, cornerback could be a position of focus during this year’s draft.

Pro Football Focus believes the Packers should make a major move up the board four spots in a trade with the Miami Dolphins to select Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean.

“Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has traded up in the first round for defensive backs twice already in his young career,” Brad Spielberger points out for PFF. “Adding cornerback Jaire Alexander and safety Darnell Savage. Here, Green Bay acquires arguably the most versatile defensive back in the class. DeJean could step in and push for the starting outside cornerback job opposite Jaire Alexander with health questions surrounding 2021 first-round cornerback Eric Stokes. He could also provide insurance if Alexander pushes for a trade elsewhere, which doesn’t seem like an impossibility, or he could line up at safety next to free-agent splash acquisition safety Xavier McKinney.

“DeJean is a tier-one athlete, with Iowa entrusting him with some return duties in 2023. DeJean had a beautiful punt return for a touchdown against Minnesota, fielding the ball off a bounce, spinning out of a tackler’s grasp and taking off for what would’ve been a walk-off game-winner if not for a penalty. As a defender, DeJean allowed completion percentages below 50% and passer ratings when targeted below 50.0 in each of the last two seasons, with seven total interceptions.”

Spielberger suggests the Packers could deal picks No. 25 and and 169 as well as a 2025 third-round pick to jump teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, and Minnesota Vikings who could be eyeing defensive back help in order to ensure walking away with DeJean in the first round. Given the state of the Packers’ cornerback room, it could prove to be a small price to pay for a potentially major upgrade.

Cooper DeJean NFL Draft Scouting Report

DeJean could be the type of player who steps in and makes an immediate upgrade.

Last season, DeJean intercepted a pair of passes and produced 41 total tackles.

“Highly competitive defensive back with plus ball skills and noteworthy special teams value,” NFL Media’s Lance Zierline writes for “DeJean is big and bundled for a cornerback, with muscular arms and tight hips. He has fantastic interception production, but his movements are more linear than fluid, and he doesn’t have the easy change of direction needed in man coverage on the next level. His best football is played with his eyes forward, using his instincts to challenge quarterbacks and his big downhill burst to smack whatever needs smacking.”

In addition to his production as a cornerback, DeJean is also the type of player who can make an impact on special teams, in the return game.

Why Packers’ Xavier McKinney is a ‘unique’ Player

Signing McKinney was a centerpiece move for the Packers’ offseason, especially for an organization that traditionally avoids shopping at the top of the free-agent market.

McKinney is an ascending talent, among the premier players at his position, and represents the type of player the Packers can build the secondary around.

After producing 116 total tackles with three interceptions, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries, Gutekunst says adding McKinney was an easy decision for the Packers.

“I think he’s a unique player to become available,” Gutekunst told reporters at the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando. “He’s 24 years old, one of the top safeties in the game. A guy that can be a game-changing type of player. He really kind of fits what we’re looking for as a free agent—not only as a player but as a leader back there.”

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