Ranked as the #1 among Power Five linebackers and the highest rating of any linebacker prospect since 2017 (by Prof Football Focus), Nakobe Dean should have been drafted in the 1st round of the 2022 NFL Draft. But fortunately for the Philadelphia Eagles, he wasn’t. After he fell out of the first two rounds, the Birds nabbed Dean in the third. But how?
Everybody, including most NFL scouts, seemed to love everything about Nakobe Dean. So how did these same NFL experts get duped by social media injury rumors and then turn it around and call him the “steal of the draft?”
Is Nakobe Dean The Total Package? Seems So
Brains, brawn, and compassion are incredible qualities for a young man to have. Nakobe Dean dabbled with the prospect of engineering and medicine before football became his true passion. His desire to help others and give back shined through, a quality passed down from his parents. Byron and Neketta Dean both served in the military and divorced when Nakobe was young.
After the divorce, Neketta raised Nakobe and his brother Nikolas on her own and taught them that intelligence is invaluable, and community means everything. With a focus on academics, Nakobe still played football at Horn Lake High School in Mississippi. In addition to AP classes, he had an impressive resume in athletics. Nakobe was a busy young man, competing in varsity baseball, basketball, and track.
He was the first 9th grader to start on varsity and collected the Butkus Award (recognizes the nation’s best linebacker at that respective level) as a senior. He was praised by coaches for picking up abilities and drills quicker than the other kids and mastering the ability to reading the plays of his opponents on offense. Academics were very important to him and Neketta even refers to her son as a “math whiz.”
Visiting the VA with his mother sparked his love for engineering. He would see veterans with missing limbs which gave him the desire to create prosthetics. Even after declaring for the NFL draft in January of 2022, he has every intention of completing his mechanical engineering degree. Contingency plans for life after football are very important to him. With a focus on academics and athletics balance, he’s a role model to many.
Dean’s Family & His Community “Means Everything”
Nakobe watched his mother Neketta do work in the community his entire life. It’s become second nature to him. In fact, a recreation center in Mississippi was where his passion for football began. From canned good drives, gift card giveaways, and a 5K run to raise money for Nakobe’s high school football team, Neketta Dean has done it all in the community.
It was important to her that her kids learn from her selfless example, so they joined her for every event. They’ve done community cleanups, and been to nursing homes, homeless shelters, and the boys and girls club. Nakobe loved volunteering at the local youth program when he was in high school, passing on his knowledge of the game of football to kids. Even when he began to earn money from deals in college, he managed to parlay that into ways to help the community.
Despite receiving offers from Alabama and Ole Miss as a top 15 overall national recruit, Nakobe committed to Georgia in 2019. He led all freshmen in tackles despite battling an ankle injury. In 2020 he made even more of an impact. Nakobe Dean suffered zero injuries and started all games, playing the majority of Georgia’s defensive snaps.
He lead the Bulldogs in tackles and was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award. He still shined in academics, earning a spot on the SEC honor roll that fall. In 2021 he would lead the Bulldogs in tackles again and collect the AP and coaches all-SEC 1st team and SEC defensive player of the year (pro football focus) awards.
He was voted team captain by his teammates. He was a big part of Georgia’s championship win in 2022, being part of a nasty top tanked defense that shut down Alabama’s Bryce Young. Nakobe’s community service efforts continued as a bulldog. His most known work was “Dawgs For Pups,” Georgia’s youth football program. He and others helped raise money to purchase WiFi hot spots for local children to access the internet, allowing them to continue remote learning during the pandemic. He volunteered for “Read Across America” during his time in school as well.
Fly Eagles Fly with Nakobe Dean
Nakobe was projected between rounds 1 and 2 of the NFL draft. Reports of pectoral and knee injuries, which were later proved untrue, impacted his stock, causing him to fall to the 3rd round. He also declined off-season surgery and teams became more cautious. The Philadelphia Eagles nabbed him with the 83rd pick, reuniting him with his Georgia teammate DT Jordan Davis who they took the day prior.
Howie Roseman assured fans on draft night that the Eagles did their own medical evaluations and no surgeries were scheduled. Nakobe was a full participant in the Eagles rookie minicamp and appears to be slated for training camp this summer with no issues. A 3rd round pick is an incredible value, and he’s even being referred to as “the steal of the 2022 NFL draft.” In Eagles rookie minicamp, he said falling in the draft will always stick with him throughout his career.
What Does He Bring?
Nakobe Dean brings a winning mentality to the Philadelphia Eagles. Not only is he a champion, but he brings a non-complacent mindset. As a former team captain, he brings leadership and a community-focused presence to a community-focused organization.
He has the potential to be the first truly dominant linebacker the Eagles have had since Jeremiah Trotter. He brings acceleration and power to a very talented defensive front. Dean also has the smarts to cover both wide receivers and running backs and can control the gaps. With a slightly smaller frame than your typical linebacker (6 foot 5, 225 lbs), Dean is more versatile and explosive.
That smaller frame allows him to shed blocks from offensive linemen that much easier. His explosiveness allows him to show pass-rushing ability with 6 sacks in 2021. Gap detection is one of his strongest qualities on the field, a result of his very high football IQ.
If fans were to have any concerns, it would be that he’s suffered multiple injuries in his career. He’s had a pectoral injury, ankle injury, and knee injuries. On the plus side, he’s never missed a game in college as a starter. Nakobe Dean’s injuries have also never appeared to be long-term.
Nakobe Dean fills a void the Eagles have been missing for so long, and a presence that Eagles fans should be thrilled for. The “steal of the draft” has a ring to it.