UPDATE: This story about Nakobe Dean was first published about a week prior to the 2022 NFL Draft. Relevant again now that he’s headed to Philly!
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW.
The last time the Eagles drafted a linebacker in the first round was with the 21st pick of the 1979 NFL Draft, choosing Jerry Robinson out of UCLA. And the only reason why that probably happened was because then-Eagles coach and Hall of Famer Dick Vermeil coached Robinson at UCLA and was the driving force behind Robinson moving from tight end to linebacker.
In the Jeff Lurie era, the Eagles have not placed a high value on the linebacker position in the draft.
Dean may be an exception.
Yet, Dean is another prospect who is all over the place when it comes to some measurables. The official University of Georgia football website has him listed at 6-foot, 225 pounds. Other NFL Draft sites have him anywhere form 5’11”, to 5’11¼”, ranging in weight from 224 to 229 pounds. He was chosen SEC Defensive Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus, after starting all 15 games of the season for the national champion Bulldogs, finishing with 72 total tackles and leading Georgia in tackles for loss with 10.5 and second in sacks (6.0). He also finished with 31 quarterback hurries and six pass breakups and was second on the Bulldogs with two interceptions.
Strengths: Many compare Dean to Chicago Bears’ linebacker Roquan Smith, another Georgia Bulldog. There is a lot to like about Dean. He’s quick, strong, aggressive, has a great motor, good lateral movement, has shown an ability to cover running backs swinging out of the backfield, can fill and shoot gaps, has what many experts say strong spatial awareness and gets off blocks well when coming forward.
Weaknesses: His height may turn some teams away. He’s proven to be a capable tackler, though at the NFL level, he may need to refine his angles on how he attacks ball carriers. Some experts feel Dean may not be able to cover NFL tight ends due to his height, and because of his size, can he shed the blocks of pulling offensive lineman?
Will he be there for the Eagles: By all projections, Dean would be there at 15 or 18 for the Eagles. But will the Eagles break what seems to be a long-standing tradition of not looking at linebackers in the first round. The Eagles had a shot at what could be a generational talent in Penn State’s Micah Parsons, who at 6’3”, 250 was far larger and far more impactful than Dean. Parsons is with the Dallas Cowboys and will be haunting the Eagles for years to come. Dean is a versatile playmaker, something the Eagles have sorely lacked at the linebacker position, since, well Seth Joyner played there literally decades ago. And before that, well, since Jerry Robinson. Frank LeMaster, John Bunting and Bill Bergey roamed there.
Should the Eagles draft Nakobe Dean?
This poll is closed
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.