he 2022 NFL Draft is less than a month away and draft experts are narrowing in on who teams will select when the NFL world descends on Las Vegas starting on April 28. New England Patriots fans will likely enjoy what ESPN Draft Expert Todd McShay had to say about the Pats’ potential first-round selection.
In McShay’s most recent mock draft that was released on Tuesday, the expert has New England taking Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean with the 21st pick.
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“New England could use a spark in the middle of the defense,” McShay stated. “Dean might not have the measurables that NFL teams seek — he is 5-foot-11 with shorter arms — but his tape might be my favorite in the entire class because of his incredible effort on every play and the way he can impact the run defense, pass defense and pass rush on any given set of downs. I think he’d be a star in coach Bill Belichick’s system.”
This projection falls in line with Heavy’s NFL Front Office Insider Randy Mueller’s thoughts on what New England’s strategy should be entering the draft.
“I would start at the University of Georgia, I’ll tell you that,” said Mueller. “Even with the 21st pick, they’re going to get a good player this year… If (Bill) Belichick just said ‘I’m going to draft Georgia guys, you guys have all the rest’ their defense would be better… It would not shock me if a couple of those guys on (Georgia’s) defense end up in New England.”
Dean definitley falls under that criteria.
Who is Nakobe Dean?
Dean just finished his senior season at Georgia and it sure was a successful one. The Linebacker tallied 72 tackles including a team-high 10.5 for loss along with six sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Dean was a crucial part of Georgia’s defense that would end up propelling the Bulldogs to a national championship.
The Mississippi native has been on people’s radars for a while. In high school, he won the High School Butkus Award recording 175 tackles (26 for a loss) along with seven sacks as a senior in high school. He was a top-15 overall recruit and showed his ability from the moment he stepped on the field for Georgia.
As a freshman, Dean recorded 25 tackles and was named Co-Defensive Newcomer of the Year in his first season in the SEC. Dean is projected to be a good starter within two years after his performance at the NFL Combine according to NFL.com.
Where Would Dean fit in New England?
The selection of Dean would boost a linebacker corps that is in desperate need of some help. Mack Wilson and Ja’Whaun Bentley have the potential to be serviceable linebackers, but New England also needs an injection of youth.
Dont’a Hightower’s future is still unknown but what fans do know is that his best playing days are behind him. Last season, Hightower tallied 64 tackles along with 1.5 sacks. The 32-year-old looked slow out on the field and not refreshed after taking the 2020 season off.
If McShay ends up being right, Patriots fans should be happy with their new linebacker.