Takeaways, observations from the Eagles picking Nakobe Dean in third round
The Eagles landed a projected first-round pick in the third round on Friday, selecting Georgia All American linebacker Nakobe Dean at No. 83 overall.
Dubbed by many as the best linebacker in the draft and a high IQ player that was the leader of the Bulldogs’ all-world defense, Dean was the subject of predraft injury rumors, with some insiders reporting that pectoral and knee injuries caused the middle linebacker to slide.
Dean says the injuries were minor, and don’t require surgery, as he and the Eagles GM both confirmed his looming participation in the team’s first rookie minicamp of the spring.
With Dean off the board and into a positive situation, here’s some next-day analysis and several key takeaways.
What Dean brings to the Eagles
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A Roquan Smith clone that plays with comparable fire and determination, Dean is among the smartest players in the NFL now, and he’ll bring Jalen Hurts like intangibles to the Philadelphia defense.
An athletic player at middle linebacker, Dean will allow the Eagles and Jonathan Gannon to keep two linebackers on the field in obvious passing situations, reducing the chance of Philadelphia getting gashed in the run game.
Dean’s style of play will only complement Kyzir White, and the Butkus award winner is versatile enough to switch spot with the former Chargers linebacker and safety, giving Philadelphia more hybrid options for various schemes and formations.
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T.J. Edwards signed a one-year extension and the assumption was that he’d be Philadelphia’s middle linebacker going forward.
The 2022 third-round pick’s apparent injury situation could keep the former Wisconsin middle linebacker in the starters role for at least this season, but a healthy Dean can play all three downs, and would immediately add athleticism to Philadelphia’s nickel and dime package.
Dean will be motivated by millions lost
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A project first-round pick who would have landed a guaranteed five-year deal, Dean’s contract value went from a minimum of $11 million guaranteed (pick 32) to a third-round deal worth $5 million total, with a $952K signing bonus and similar base salary.
“Things that were not true cost me a lot of money,” Dean said after being drafted, via ProFootballTalk. “That was the thing that was so surprising and mind-boggling. It was never, I went to doctors, got second opinions and everything, and nobody — nobody — said I should have surgery. Nobody had told me I had to have surgery. So, for that to come up and for teams to be saying that and waiting until the day of the draft to say something like that, that was kind of crazy to me.”
Dean refutes injury rumors
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Dean says he’s healthy and ready to go, but we’ll likely have to wait for his physical to get a deeper analysis of his health.
“I’m healthy,” Dean said. “I’m ready to go. I know the minicamp is next week and I expect to be a full participant for that. Why I dropped? It’s not in my control. Nothing I can do. Nothing I could do to make them pick me up earlier. I’m grateful and blessed I have this opportunity.”