Nakobe Dean was a first-round talent that had an awkward slip to the third round of the NFL Draft, before the Philadelphia Eagles were able to select him and make the Georgia standout an integral part of their defense. Philadelphia is excited to land Dean at third-round value, but the linebacker will be motivated by that fall for the duration of his NFL career.
“It’s definitely something that will stick with me,” Dean said at Eagles rookie minicamp Friday. “It’s not my primary or secondary source of motivation, but it’s definitely something that will stick with me throughout my playing career.”
Dean’s credentials didn’t merit a third-round pick. He was the only player in the nation with five sacks (finished with six sacks), two forced fumbles, and two interceptions in 2021. Georgia allowed just 10.2 points per game (regular season and playoffs), the fifth-best scoring defense since 2000 — and Dean was the leader of that unit.
Why did Dean fall? Dean faced reports of a pectoral and knee injury causing his draft stock to slide, which was news to him as he was a full participant at Eagles rookie minicamp this weekend. Dean isn’t expected to miss any time, which is the Eagles’ gain.
“I can sense he’s all ball all the time, whether we are in a meeting or on the field, he’s locked in,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said Friday. “You definitely felt that from him, and we knew that about him before we even drafted him. He definitely showed that today, and he showed that yesterday in our meetings.”
Dean, who will wear No. 17 for the Eagles, is already taking command of the defense and showcasing those leadership abilities he had at Georgia. First-round pick Jordan Davis was Dean’s teammate at Georgia, knowing what he brings to the table as a commander of the defense — what Davis called him when they were with the Bulldogs.
“When you have somebody like Nakobe running the show and calling the plays, you’ve got him behind you, you trust him 100%,” Davis said. “If I mess up, he’s going to clean it up. If he messes up, he knows I’m going to clean it up.”
Dean’s career will be intriguing because of his fall to the third round. A few great seasons will have many general managers questioning why they passed on him in the first place.