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June 10, 2024

What they're saying: How does Nakobe Dean fit into Eagles' plans?

In a roundup of the latest Eagles news and analysis, we look at the future of Nakobe Dean at linebacker, Vic Fangio's fit in Philadelphia and more.

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8.6.23_EaglesPractice_Nakobe-Dean-0684.jpg Colleen Claggett/For PhillyVoice

Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean

The first mandatory minicamp of the Nick Sirianni era is over for the Eagles as Philadelphia eagerly awaits training camp next month. Until that day comes at the NovaCare Complex in South Philly, let's take stock of some Eagles news and takes that are out there...

What's next for Nakobe Dean at linebacker?

Reuben Frank | NBC Sports Philadelphia

When the Eagles nabbed Nakobe Dean in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, it appeared to be a huge steal. Dean was the best linebacker in the nation on a Georgia team that may have had the greatest defense in the history of the sport. Between injuries and missed opportunities, however, it has just not clicked for Dean at the same level in his pro career. 

During minicamp, free agent signees Devin White and Zack Baun received the first-team linebacker reps while Dean got work in with the 2s. NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank wonders about how Dean fits into the mix, writing:

Don’t the Eagles have to find out of Dean can play? He’s the one who’s 23 years old, he’s the one who the Eagles drafted in the third round just two years ago, he’s the one under contract through 2025, he’s the one everybody was so high on. Then he doesn’t play as a rookie and gets hurt last year and now he’s buried behind a 27-year-old on a one-year contract playing a new position? I’m not saying Dean is the answer. I am saying I’d like to see him get at least half the 1st-team snaps just to learn more about him. [NBC Sports Philadelphia]

Dean's intangibles and football IQ are unquestionable, but he's undersized in the NFL and doesn't have game-changing athleticism to compensate for it. It appears as if new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will wield more personnel on the D than the likes of Jonathan Gannon and Sean Desai. If Fangio likes what he sees from White and Baun, which checks out in the small-sample size of camp, that could be bad news for Dean's future in midnight green. 

Eagles sign defensive back Parry Nickerson

On that same wavelength about Fangio, the Eagles are bringing in a player that he has some familiarity with in DB Parry Nickerson. 

Nickerson played in five games with the Dolphins in 2023 while Fangio served as Miami's defensive coordinator. He played 84 defensive snaps in those games, plus 19 on special teams. The Eagles' cornerback room is mighty crowded with young, intriguing players like Quinyon Mitchell, Cooper DeJean, Kelee Ringo and other, so Nickerson may simply be a summer depth signing, but the Fangio connection is worth mentioning. 

Vic Fangio was the Eagles' best move of the offseason

Jeff Kerr | CBS Sports

More Fangio talk!

In naming the best offseason move of every NFC team, CBS Sports' Jeff Kerr choose Fangio for the Birds:

The Eagles had one of the worst defenses in the NFL last season, leading to a change in defensive coordinator immediately after the year ended. They had Fangio fall into their lap after Fangio and the Miami Dolphins mutually agreed to part ways.

The communication issues on the defense are in the past, as Fangio's hard-coaching style has brought accountability back to the Eagles. Adding C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Bryce Huff, Devin White, Quinyon Mitchell, and Cooper DeJean as the highlight defensive moves has also helped Philadelphia in revamping the defense.

The Eagles defense was 30th in points allowed per possession (2.35) and and 31st in yards allowed per possession (34.6) last seaosn. They were 31st in pass touchdowns allowed (35) and pass yards per game allowed (252.7). This defense can't be any worse under Fangio, nor should it be. [CBS Sports]

Saquon Barkley was the splashiest move of the Birds' offseason, no doubt. White brings stability to a linebacker group that was assuredly missing it in 2023. The Eagles revamped the future of the cornerback spot in Philly with Mitchell and DeJean. Even with those caveats, no single move may have altered their odds of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy next February than bringing in Fangio. 

The Eagles desperately needed a culture change on D. Desai was simply a poor fit here on a variety of levels. The short-lived Matt Patricia era will go down in infamy as well. Fangio has a track record of success, is open to allowing his players to do what they do best and is a commanding presence. 

The state of Jalen Hurts

Adam Rank |

In assessing the state of the Eagles franchise,'s Adam Rank discusses the Eagles' quarterback situation with Jalen Hurts, writing:

Jalen Hurts is an elite quarterback. I know I had him downgraded a bit heading into last season for FANTASY REASONS, mainly because I didn't see him scoring double-digit rushing touchdowns again. He proved me wrong on that one. But I love him as a field general. He struggled with interceptions when throwing from the pocket last year. Heck, he struggled with turnovers in general (20 giveaways, 12 more than he had in 2022). His fourth-quarter passer rating dropped from 104.7 in 2022 (second in the NFL) to 83.6 in 2023. But I've seen enough from Hurts over the years to believe he can bounce back this season. Hurts has a 112.8 passer rating on downfield passes (10-plus air yards) since 2022 -- the third-highest mark in the NFL over that span -- which fits nicely with Kellen Moore's affinity for taking shots. Philly might have to move away from the Brotherly Shove (not entirely), but I'll get to that in a moment. Overall, I really love Hurts' chances of bouncing back this season. By the way, the Eagles traded for former first-round pick Kenny Pickett to be the new backup QB, too. []

Hurts' intangibles never come into question. Turnover regression was crushing for him in 2023 though. In his first two seasons as the Eagles' QB1 in 2021 and 2022, his interception rate was 1.7 percent. That number jumped to 2.8.percent last year. His 15 interceptions were the third most in the NFL. It's not what Hurts wants to do, but a "take what the defense is giving you" approach, at times, may be the best way to cut down on the picks. Consistent eight-yard pickups to the likes of A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert and DeVonta Smith can go a long way to sustaining methodical scoring drives. 

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