Nakobe Dean Draft Profile
Travon Walker, Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Davonte Wyatt, Quay Walker, and Lewis Cine… are the defensive players from the University of Georgia that are expected to go in the first two rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft. When a team has so much individual talent, they need a leader to bring those individuals together to form a team. For the Bulldogs, that guy was a do-it-all linebacker, Nakobe Dean. When watching Georgia play it was apparent that Dean not only knew his own task, but what his defensive linemen were supposed to do, how his fellow linebackers were supposed to line up, and what coverage the secondary should be playing. He was the true alpha dog on that defense and was a big reason why Georgia won the National Championship this past year. In the first round, Dean and Devin Lloyd will be competing to be the first linebacker taken. It is the consensus that he is a top two linebacker in this year’s draft, and I really think it is a pick your poison type of debate. Nakobe Dean was one hell of a leader at Georgia and I am confident he is going to be the same guy as soon as he gets into the league.
When watching Nakobe Dean play, it looks like someone lit a fire under his ass because he explodes to the football. His burst and game speed are incredible and his pursuit is impressive. He is playing at a 10 at all times and does not take any plays off. He is a really smart player that gets his teammates in the position to succeed; in the NFL, I see him being the dude with the green dot on the back of his helmet calling plays for the defense. He does a great job at reading the offensive line pre-snap to predict run vs pass and where different run plays are going. Against a lot of pre and post-snap movements, Dean’s intelligence becomes apparent. He processes information extremely quickly and puts himself in a position to make a lot of tackles. In coverage, Dean is very comfortable in man and he has the interceptions to show for it. While he’s explosive going for tackles, you should see him when the ball is in the air. His ability to break on the football reminds me of defensive backs; he neutralizes running backs in the passing game. As a rusher, Dean showed that he can win with both speed and power. At Georgia, he showed versatility as a rusher, he can line up on the edge, in the A-Gap, or come down from the linebacker spot. Even though Dean is undersized, he showed that he was capable of getting off blocks and being violent when approached by blockers. He can play both the SAM and MIKE backer position; Dean is going to be the leader of the locker room once he gains the respect from his vets.
While “only knowing one speed” is usually looked at as a good thing in the NFL, with Dean it can sometimes hurt him. It causes him to overcommit on tackles and be susceptible to jukes and cutbacks. I hate knocking players on things they can’t control, like Dean’s size, but in this case, it really hurts him when trying to tackle bigger players. Standing at 5’11, Dean is very small for a linebacker. I love the way Dean plays; he never shies down from anything, but that means he takes a lot of hits. He eats a lot of big blocks from offensive linemen; instead of trying to meet them head-on, he needs to be nimble and evade the block. In coverage, Dean is very good against tight ends and running backs, but should not be tasked with covering wide receivers. With all of that being said, Dean plays the right way— he just needs to learn how to control his game a little better.
There are certain coaches whom I have a feeling will fall in love with Nakobe Dean: Dan Campbell, Mike Tomlin, Mike Vrabel… the list goes on. Dean is practically a coach on the field; he is an intense yet extremely personable dude. I have a top 23 grade on him, but in reality, there is a wide range of where he could be drafted. I don’t see a possibility of him getting out of the first round, but the question is where in the first round will he go? I could see a team who picks early in the second round like the Panthers or Seahawks trading up to get him towards the end of day one. I could also see the Eagles moving back and taking him in the 20s. While I don’t think he is as good as a prospect as Devin Bush, I see the resemblance. He’s an undersized, explosive linebacker that is an alpha dog on the field and in the locker room. If Dean lands in the right scenario I can see him being a pro bowl linebacker in the NFL.
Eyes, IQ, + Instincts: 8.75/10
Violence + Hands: 5.5/6
Blitz + Pass Rush: 5.25/6
Range + Pursuit: 5.25/6
Man Coverage: 4.5/5
Zone Coverage: 3.75/5
Final Rating: 83
Pro Comparison: Devin Bush
Team Fits: Panthers, Seahawks, Eagles
Draft Ranking: Top 23 Player
Draft Projection: First Round Pick