There was a small army of fans pleading for the Philadelphia Eagles to take Nakobe Dean in the first round. They didn’t. They waited patiently as the Georgia stud fell further and further down the draft board due to injury concerns. The Eagles swooped in and grabbed him at pick No. 83 in the third round.
Dean was a consensus first-rounder before the medical red flags, an explosive three-down linebacker who won a national championship last year alongside college teammate Jordan Davis. The 6-foot, 225-pounder started 15 games for the Bulldogs in 2021 and finished with 72 total tackles (10.5 for loss), plus six sacks and two interceptions. He was voted SEC Defensive Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus.
His talent is undeniable when you throw on the tape, highlighted by quick feet and surprising agility. The questions have always been about Dean’s size, something he’s been battling since high school.
“My size is something that has been questioned my whole life,” Dean told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m going to continue to work on my craft and do what I got to do. And I know what I want to do, I know my goals, and I don’t feel like my size will get in the way of me completing my goal.”
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Medical Red Flags Send Dean Spiraling
The medical red flags are a real thing when discussing Dean’s NFL future. He has a laundry list of ailments: ankle, shoulder, foot, wrist, groin, among other injury concerns that scared a lot of teams away – and forced him into the third round.
The main reason for his dramatic fall down the draft board stemmed from his decision to decline right shoulder surgery, per PFF’s Austin Gayle. And Dean may have to redshirt his rookie year due to a pectoral injury.
“There are other factors at play for Dean,” wrote David J. Chao of Sports Injury Central. “As a linebacker on the smaller side – he stands at 6-foot, 225 pounds – his technique and arm strength are essential for his success. Pectoral muscles are an integral piece in wrapping up and finishing tackles as rushers can power through arm tackles.”
Eagles Players Loving Their New Teammate
Injury concerns aside, Dean is an absolute stud in the middle of the defense and his new teammates have his back. Eagles cornerback Darius Slay wrote: “I talked him up.” And defensive tackle Jordan Davis added: “let’s show how Philly how we do it.”
Remember, the Eagles aren’t in win-now mode so they have the luxury of stashing a first-round talent like Dean and reaping the rewards in 2023. It was another savvy move by Howie Roseman who had a draft for the ages – well, on paper anyway. Time will tell how everything plays out in 2023 and beyond.
“We have a lot of areas we want to continue to improve on this football team. That work’s not going to stop,” Roseman said after Round 1. “It’s not going to stop Saturday, it’s not going to stop Sunday and it’s not going to stop really until the trade line. Even then, we are going to look at the waiver wire and keep working, try to get better.”