The Green Bay Packers own two picks in the first round (Nos. 22 and 28) of the 2022 NFL draft. In this “Packers draft profile” series, we will look at several options for Green Bay in the first round and dissect their collegiate careers, highlight reel and how they would fit with the team.
In this edition, we look at Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean.
Dean was not only a unanimous All-American in 2021, but he was also the Butkus Award winner, which is given to the best linebacker in college football.
What Dean may lack in ideal size at the inside linebacker position he makes up for with an explosive and fearless style of play constantly attacking run gaps.
While his career carried along at Georgia, Dean only got better and better. His best season was in 2021 as he tallied six sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. His two lone career interceptions both came last season and he took one back to the house, against Florida, which sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
Dean’s final year at Georgia was filled with splash plays and plenty of game-altering tackles in the opposing backfield and it’s why many are intrigued about what he could be at the next level.
NFL COMBINE RESULTS
40-yard dash: N/A
Bench press: N/A
Vertical jump: N/A
Broad jump: N/A
3 cone drill: N/A
20-yard shuttle: N/A
Note: Dean suffered a pec strain in the offseason and did not participate in the NFL combine and only went through a couple positional drills at Georgia’s Pro Day.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“Nakobe Dean won the 2021 Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker. He is a very good reactive athlete with regard to quickness and agility. He affects the passing game in a variety of ways. He can blitz inside and demonstrates very good closing quickness to the quarterback. He gets good depth in his zone drops while also showing the ability to cover running backs with ease. In the run game, he is very instinctive in the box. His team-leading TFL number speaks to the downhill, instinctive, and decisive effort he plays with. He uses his good quickness to defeat lineman and beat them to the spot. He also does a good job shooting gaps to disrupt plays in the backfield.” - The Draft Network
“Explosive, three-down linebacker with the demeanor and quickness to become a volume tackler while holding down third-down duties at a high level. Dean’s play recognition is a work in progress, which limits the reaction time and forces him to deal with more blockers than he’ll see as he gains more experience. Quick feet and plus agility will bring him to ball-carriers at a high rate but a lack of size and length means he’ll need to fine-tune his approach as a tackler to make sure he finishes what he starts. He might lack measurables, but he has the toughness and technique to see a boost in his performance once his play becomes more proactive.” - Lance Zierlein NFL.com
HOW HE FITS
On paper, Green Bay’s defense is loaded for 2022. The front office bringing back linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and cornerback Rasul Douglas is huge and when looking across the landscape of that side of the ball for the Packers, there aren’t too many holes. There are however solid duos at almost every spot and Campbell could use a sidekick.
Preston Smith and Rashan Gary hold down the edge spots while Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage are a nice one-two punch at safety. Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes are two excellent, young corners and Douglas is back in the picture as well.
There may be bigger needs for Green Bay in the draft but if they go with the best available on the board, Dean sitting at No. 22 or No. 28 could fit that description. He and Campbell would lock in the Packers at inside linebacker for the foreseeable future and put to rest all the years of subpar play at the position in Green Bay.