Bears Defensive Leader Thinks NFC Rival Got ‘Steal of the Draft’

Roquan Smith

Getty Bears LB Roquan Smith threw some major hype Nakobe Dean's way.

One of the biggest surprises of the 2022 NFL draft is how far former Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean fell.

Originally projected to be a late first-round or early second-round pick, Dean dropped to 83rd overall, finally getting selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the third round.

According to Chicago Bears stud linebacker Roquan Smith, a fellow Bulldogs alum, the Eagles walked away with the draft’s biggest steal.

“Nakobe about to be the biggest steal of draft,” Smith tweeted on April 29, adding: “Mark my words.”

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Dean Denies Having Health Issues

As reported by NFL insider Ian Rapoport, a litany of injuries, most recently a torn pectoral tendon that Dean didn’t have surgery on, were the reason for his free-fall in the draft. According to Pro Football Docs, the torn pectoral tendon and the LB’s decision not to have surgery was the primary reason teams hit the pause button.

For his part, the ex-Georgia backer says he’s 100% healthy and claims his drop in the draft remains a mystery to him.

“I’m healthy,” Dean said on April 29 after he was finally drafted. “I’m ready to go. I know minicamp is next week and I expect to be a full participant for that. Why I dropped? It’s not in my control. Nothing I can do. Nothing I could do to make them pick me earlier. I’m grateful and blessed I have this opportunity.”

“Things that were not true cost me, you know, a lot of money,” Dean added. “That was the thing that was so surprising and mind-boggling. It was never… I went to doctors, got second opinions and everything, and nobody — nobody — said I should have surgery. Nobody had told me I had to have surgery. So, for that to come up and for teams to be saying that and waiting until the day of the draft to say something like that, that was kind of crazy to me.”

Smith, who knows a thing or two about quality linebackers, clearly thinks the Eagles got a good one in Dean.

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Smith Wants to Be With Bears Long Term

The eighth overall pick for the Bears in the first-round of the 2018 draft, Smith has become the team’s defensive leader, and for good reason. The 25-year-old linebacker has had over 100 tackles in each of his first four seasons, leading the defense in that particular stat each year.

He’ll be entering the final year of his rookie deal next season and is due for what should be a mega-extension. For his part, Smith says he’d like to stay in Chicago for the foreseeable future.

“Absolutely, yeah, that’s my plan,” Smith said on April 20, not wanting to go into many details. “I’m confident we’ll get everything taken care of.”

Bears general manager Ryan Poles noted he’d like to sign Smith to an extension before the 2022 season begins, but also mentioned it’s something that could wait until 2023.

“I don’t know if that’s how we’re going to handle it, but I would like to,” Poles said in March, via ESPN. “Obviously the earlier you get to that, the better. But also with a new staff, we may wait a little bit, too.”

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