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December 06, 2022

Eagles LB Nakobe Dean looked promising against the Titans, with video and stuff

Eagles NFL

When the Philadelphia Eagles selected Nakobe Dean in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, it was largely considered a steal, since there were no shortage of draft experts projecting him to be taken in the first round.

Many (self included) thought Dean had a great chance of stepping in and becoming a starter right off the bat, but in training camp T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White clearly outplayed him. Even reserves like Shaun Bradley and Davion Taylor made some splashy plays, while Dean was mostly quiet. 

In hindsight, early projections of immediate success were probably not well thought out. Dean is small and he has questionable athleticism. He was a star at Georgia because he was the smartest player on the field. In training camp, Dean was not the smartest player on the field, as he was (a) adjusting to life in the NFL, and (b) learning a new defensive scheme. As such, he was more of a reactionary player than a proactive one. 

Rookies at some positions — like running back, for example — don't need much time to adapt to the NFL because there isn't as much to grasp mentally. Other positions, like linebacker, tend to take a little more time.

Through the first 11 games of the regular season, Edwards and White stayed healthy, so Dean's role was limited to special teams. In game No. 12 against the Titans on Sunday, White had to come out of the game, and Dean filled in on the regular defense for 15 snaps. Here's what I saw on the re-watch:

As you can see, there was some good, some bad, but more good than bad. Here's Jonathan Gannon on Dean:

I don't know that Dean was so special that the Eagles should make exceptions to shoehorn him onto the field, but I think he showed enough that (a) he can play in the event of an injury, and (b) he showed some promise for the future if the Eagles have to let Edwards or White (more likely White) walk in free agency this upcoming offseason.


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