Nakobe Dean - ILB - Georgia
Welcome to the rookie profile for Nakobe Dean. Dean has had one hell of a year for Georgia and played a huge part in their title winning defense. In what has been by far the best defense in college football it is Dean who stands out for the Bulldogs. Whilst he’s not the stereotypical linebacker, he possesses speed and ability to play the game faster than anybody at the linebacker position in college football.
Height: 6′ 0″
Weight: 225 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.52s
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Vertical Jump: DNP
Broad Jump: DNP
Bench Press: DNP
Nakobe Dean was an exceptional player throughout his high school career and was named the winner of the 2018 High School Butkus Award, recognized as the Nation’s top high school linebacker. Dean was also invited to the Under Armour All-American game in 2019. Coming out of college Dean was a five-star prospect and a top 20 overall player, receiving over 40 college offers he ended up a Georgia Bulldog and the rest is history.
In Dean’s freshman year in 2019 he played in 14 games for the Bulldogs and put up steady numbers as he contributed with 25 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Dean was named as the Georgia Bulldogs defensive newcomer of the year as a true freshman.
2019 was a solid year for Dean; however, everyone was expecting bigger numbers from the linebacker. Queue 2020; It’s safe to say that he didn’t disappoint as he made 10 starts and played over 3 quarters of the team’s defensive snaps; he led the team in tackles and QB pressures (71 tackles and 13 QB pressures) as well as 1.5 sacks.
Throughout his college career Dean has just got better and better and 2021 was huge. Dean racked up 72 tackles – 10.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, one of which was a pick 6 and 28 QB hits on the season. On the back of this season the honors rolled in for Dean as he won the Butkus Award, recognised as the Nation’s best college linebacker – the last player to win high school and college Butkus awards was Jaylon Smith. Dean made the AP & Coaches All-SEC 1st Team and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by PFF. Dean was also a semi finalist for the 2021 Chuck Bednarik Award
Dean is the most athletically gifted linebacker in this year’s draft class possessing an elite level of speed and is extremely explosive with a very quick twitch frame built for having success in the tackling part of the game.
He may not be the biggest linebacker we’ll ever see but he packs a serious punch for a player of his size, he wraps up and hits hard. One of the most impressive parts of Dean’s game is his play speed, when he blitzes, he is rapid and when playing the run his quick burst of speed allows him to get to ball carriers with ease, often he can get to the backfield without being touched. His ability to blitz from different positions; this will be a huge asset in the NFL especially on crucial third downs.
His flashes of closing speed and excellent agility help him reach passers from the blind side or straight through the middle with ease and makes it difficult for them to escape. Dean has the look of a cornerback as he runs and can keep up with receivers due to his excellent straight-line speed, and can chase down receivers in coverage.
Dean’s best work is in the run game and even though he is undersized for the prototypical linebacker, he is a very strong box defender. He shows toughness and grit in the run game and has a good ability to shed blocks and finish tackles. Pair this with his footballing IQ and this is what makes him standout as the best linebacker in college football. He has a natural understanding of his pre-snap assignments, excellent play recognition skills and his positional skills make him ready to make a play at any time.
Dean’s size and weight mean that he’s not ever going to be the tallest or heaviest threat in the linebacker position and will lose battles to tight ends as he can be pushed away on routes too easily. Again, his size may mean that he could find the power game in the NFL a struggle at times.
Dean has excellent football IQ as a run defender, but his pass defense may require a little more attention and improvement for the next stage of his career, especially as he is susceptible to fake plays. He can struggle with a change of direction to recover from the occasional misread play.
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital- Round 1
The Eagles have three of the top 20 draft picks and will certainly have their eye on a linebacker, especially as the Eagles linebacker core hasn’t exactly set the world alight with only Alex Singleton showing glimpses of making plays. Nakobe Dean would walk straight into a starting spot and bring in a winning mentality to the locker room alongside his leadership skills.
I think we’ll see the Eagles using those three 1st round picks on attending to their defensive woes. The Eagles typically deploy a system which requires the linebackers to drop into coverage and make plays on the ball, being able to shed blocks and play up in the box; Dean does all of this and would be the full package for Philly.
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Image Credit: Brett Davis – USA TODAY Sports