The Eagles have done the impossible, and a high-profile linebacker is on his way to Philadelphia. With the 83rd overall pick, Philadelphia selected 21-year-old Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean. It’s a huge pick for a multitude of reasons, so let’s not waste time diving into the newest defensive player.
Dean’s Speed, Pass Defense, And Versatility Stand Out Amongst His Skills
Dean — standing at 5’11” and weighing 229 — put up incredible numbers last year, where he totaled 6 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 72 tackles. That earned him not only All-SEC and All-American accolades, but the Butkus Award (given to the nation’s top linebacker).
That hardware and accolades is nice to see, but the potential may be even better. As The Draft Network noted, Dean can affect the passing game in a variety of ways, an area where previous Philadelphia backs have sorely struggled.
“His team-leading TFL number speaks to the downhill, instinctive, and decisive effort he plays with. He uses his good quickness to defeat linemen and beat them to the spot. He also does a good job shooting gaps to disrupt plays in the backfield.”
TDN also noted Dean’s excelling instincts in the box during the run, along with his high football IQ, mobility, leadership, and versatility. Still, there are some kinks in his game. Dean’s balance as a tackler can force him to miss tackles, while he needs to improve beating linemen.
Ultimately, Dean has the potential of a three-down back that can provide speed, precision, and explosiveness to a defense that has been lacking this type of playmaker for quite some time. Of course, there are some other issues about Dean that could prove to be detrimental.
Despite Concerns, The Value Was Too Good To Pass Up
The big news of the night surrounding the linebacker wasn’t his talent, unfortunately. No, the NFL community was shocked as Dean fell through the first 10 picks of the second. Then 20. And just kept falling all the way into the laps of the Eagles in the back end of the third.
According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, teams were heavily concerned with a number of injuries surrounding Dean, which includes pec, shoulder, and ankle. As PFF’s Austin Gayle notes, the shoulder in particular is a “major concern,” though the pec is also worrying.
But the shoulder is a "major concern," per source.
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) April 30, 2022
Some — like NFL reporter Matt Lombardo — have suggested that depending on the severity of injuries, Dean may be forced to take a redshirt season. It’s clear the Eagles aren’t afraid of that possibility. After all, they took the risk on Sydney Jones back in 2017 after the potential first-rounder fell due to injuries. Jones didn’t play at all that season.
Of course, there’s also risks down the line. Jones wasn’t exactly a model of health for the Birds, playing just 22 games in three seasons. Obviously, every player is different. But numerous injuries isn’t nothing to write off either.
Regardless, the Eagles made a smart move taken Dean. It’s a fantastic pick, fulfilling a need that’s been neglected for far too long. If Dean can make his way back onto the field, then the team will find itself with a player who should’ve gone in the first few picks of the second round.