Eagles select Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean in third round of NFL Draft

Once considered a first-round prospect, Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean slipped drastically in the NFL Draft. But after much anticipation, the Eagles selected Dean in the third round with the No. 83 pick overall because they were in dire need on defense.

When healthy, Dean could have an immediate impact on the defense’s front seven. Over the past decade, the Eagles have neglected to develop young talent at linebacker, relying instead on short-term rentals on a retrainable basis. Last offseason, the team signed Eric Wilson to a one-year contract; that offseason, he signed linebacker Kyzir White to a similar one-year contract.

By adding Dean, the Eagles hope he will become a fundamental piece in the middle of the unit.

Dean, 5-foot-11, 229 pounds, was a key player in the nation’s top college defense, helping lead Georgia to a national championship. Dean was a first-team AP All-American and All-SEC selection after recording 72 tackles, including a team-high 10 1/2 tackles for loss with six sacks and two interceptions.

Dean had arguably the biggest slide of the draft. According to multiple reports, Dean raised several medical red flags throughout his pre-project process. He suffered a labral tear in 2020 and has battled tendinitis in his knee for the past year. Dean is also recovering from a “serious pectoral injury,” according to NFL Network.

Given the medical history, there is a scenario where Dean is not ready to participate in on-field workouts for the next few weeks and months leading up to training camp. Dean’s red flags are considered major concerns, but the Eagles recently had the experience of drafting a Day 2 prospect after a serious injury. Last year, the team drafted Landon Dickerson in the second round. Dickerson was first placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and missed one regular season game.

It remains to be seen exactly how much time Dean could miss as he recovers from various injuries.

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com writes of Dean, “An explosive three-man linebacker with the attitude and quickness to become a volume tackler while performing high-level third-party duties. Recognizing Dean’s game is a work in progress, which limits reaction time and forces him to deal with more blockers than he will see as he gains more experience . Quick feet and more agility will see him carry the ball at a high pace, but a lack of size and length means he will need to refine his approach as a tackler to ensure he finishes what he does. ‘It starts. He may be lacking in measurable metrics, but he has the tenacity and technique to see an improvement in his performance once his game becomes more proactive.

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