A critical part of a national championship-winning defense, Nakobe Dean will be a sought-after linebacker in the 2022 NFL Draft. Not only is Dean capable of impacting a game in a myriad of ways, but his football IQ and leadership also could help him become the quarterback of his team's defense in the future.
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Nakobe Dean Draft Profile
The heart of Georgia’s national championship defense, Dean is a rangy playmaker who brings pound-for-pound toughness to the middle of a defense. He made huge strides over his three seasons and last year became a more aggressive downfield defender, recognizing opportunities to fire into gaps and blow up plays. He brings legitimate sideline-to-sideline range and locates the ball effectively, and his instincts and quickness allow him to evade blocks and get to where he needs to be. He’s a twitched-up, violent tackler when he gets to the ball, and he breaks down well in space, rarely letting a ball carrier slip away. In coverage, he has the speed and fluid athleticism to guard tight ends, though he’s outstanding in zone coverage, reading the quarterback and getting into throwing lanes. He flashed as a blitzer last season more than ever, coming late and closing fast. He was responsible for getting his defense aligned, a role he’ll be able to handle in the pros; his football IQ and football character are outstanding.
He’s undersized, an issue that won’t improve. Dean’s lack of length limits his ability to take on blocks; he has to run around blockers rather than through them. The lack of size could also show up in coverage against bigger tight ends, who will be able to overwhelm him at the catch point.
His size limits him to the weak side for teams that use an even front in order to keep him covered up, but as long as he’s kept clean, Dean can impact the game as a run defender, in coverage and as a blitzer, while essentially captaining the defense.
Final Grade: 1st Round