Once considered a first-round prospect, Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean slipped drastically in the NFL draft. But following much anticipation, the Eagles selected Dean in the third round with the No. 83 overall pick, as they addressed a glaring need in the defense.
How he fits
When healthy, Dean could make an immediate impact to the defense’s front seven. Over the past decade, the Eagles have neglected to develop young talent at linebacker, instead relying on short-term rentals on a recyclable basis. Last offseason, the team signed Eric Wilson to a one-year deal; this offseason, it signed linebacker Kyzir White to a similar one-year contract.
By adding Dean, the Eagles are hoping he develops into a foundational piece across the middle of the unit.
Dean, 5-foot-11, 229 pounds, was a pivotal player on the country’s top college defense, helping lead Georgia to a national championship. Dean was a first-team AP All-American and All-SEC selection after he recorded 72 tackles, including a team-high 10 1/2 tackles for loss with six sacks and two interceptions.
Why did he slip?
Dean arguably experienced the largest slide in the draft. According to several reports, Dean had multiple medical red flags arise throughout his pre-draft process. He suffered a torn labrum in 2020 and battled knee tendinitis over the past year. Dean is also recovering from a “severe pec injury,” according to NFL Network.
Considering the medical background, there’s a scenario where Dean isn’t ready to participate in on-field workouts over the next several weeks and months leading up to training camp. Dean’s red flags are viewed as major concerns, but the Eagles recently have experience with drafting a Day 2 prospect coming off a serious injury. Last year, the team drafted Landon Dickerson in the second round. Dickerson was initially placed on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and missed one regular season game.
It remains to be seen exactly how much time Dean could miss as he recovers from various injuries.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein writes of Dean: “Explosive, three-down linebacker with the demeanor and quickness to become a volume tackler while holding down third-down duties at a high level. Dean’s play recognition is a work in progress, which limits reaction time and forces him to deal with more blockers than he’ll see as he gains more experience. Quick feet and plus agility will bring him to ball-carriers at a high rate but a lack of size and length means he’ll need to fine-tune his approach as a tackler to make sure he finishes what he starts. He might lack measurables, but he has the toughness and technique to see a boost in his performance once his play becomes more proactive.”