PHILADELPHIA — There’s no hiding Nakobe Dean is smart, yet a student that had a 3.55 GPA at the University of Georgia is well aware he isn’t going to make it in the NFL using the same routine as he did with the Bulldogs. Being the intellectual individual he is, Dean figured out how to jump the other freshmen in line in order to get on the field.
Dean knew one aspect of the game to get ahead. That’s all he knew.
“To be honest, I faked it until I made it,” Dean said with a smile. It was different package and I just learned one package. I’m going to learn this (package) and I’m going to learn it better than everybody else. That’s where they put me at and I learned it throughout the season.”
Dean parlayed knowing one coverage into playing all 14 games his freshman season with 25 total stops and a co-Defensive Newcomer of the Year honors for the Bulldogs. Two years later, he’s the team captain on a national championship defense — the best in the country. He also was the winner of the Butkus award (nation’s best linebacker) and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
Still trying to get on the field — this time in Philadelphia — there’s no shortcuts.
“There’s no faking here. It’s just learning doing what you need to do to get on the field. There’s no faking it here,” Dean said. “There’s grown men that have been playing 10-11 years in this league. You can’t fake it.”
In order to get better, Dean is asking questions in the classroom and communicating with the veterans. Dean badly wants to succeed in the NFL and play at a high level, well aware the top veterans on the Eagles worked at their craft to stick around for a decade.
“You gotta become more of a student of the game,” Dean said. “There are people who have been playing this game a long time. I’m trying to take things in from Fletch (Fletcher Cox), BG (Brandon Graham), Kelce (Jason Kelce). If there’s something you can learn watching them, talking to them, seeing how they do things.
“I ask everyone questions on anything I wanted to know. Everybody has been helpful. Everybody has been supportive of the young guys and getting along.”
Georgia got Dean as a five-star prospect who was still learning the intricacies of the game. Three years with the Bulldogs made Dean the instinctual linebacker the Eagles have high hopes for in 2022 and beyond.
Dean, still lining up with the second and third team, has a lot to prove with the first preseason game a week away.
“Here — it’s a little different. I’m more of a football savvy person,” Dean said. “I came into Georgia, I didn’t know every coverage from Cover 1 to Cover 9. Now I know all the coverages. I’m playing how the Eagles want us to play.
“I got a little bit more time to study (football). I’m doing more studying and becoming a student of the game than I already was. That’s helping me out a lot. There’s definitely a lot of different terms that we use from Georgia to here. That’s the biggest thing, not as far as new terminology, just deciphering it and getting it right.”