Nakobe Dean could be the perfect ILB prospect for the Packers to focus on in the upcoming draft. The Packers have had problems at the ILB position for nearly a decade until the revelation, DeVondre Campbell arrived. Campbell played so well that he earned 1st-team All-Pro recognition. With an accolade like that under his belt, Campbell will cost a lot of money. With how the Packers cap situation looks and the looming potential contracts of Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, the Packers may have to let Campbell walk. This makes Nakobe Dean an even more intriguing prospect.
About Nakobe Dean
Dean was a five-star high school prospect who won the 2018 High School Butkus Award. This award is given to the best high school linebacker in the country. Dean received over 40 collegiate offers but ultimately decided on Georgia. At Georgia, Dean became the leader of the best defense in all of college football. Dean was a consensus All-American and earned the Dick Butkus Award for being the nation’s best linebacker. Dean put in work to earn the title “nation’s best linebacker.”
In his final season on the Bulldogs, Dean had 72 total tackles, an incredible 10.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 2 interceptions (1 of which was returned for a TD), 5 passes defended, and forced fumbles. To emphasize his incredible season, Dean led the Bulldog’s defense in keeping one of the nation’s top offenses, Alabama, to under 20 points (they averaged 40 during the season) en route to a double-digit victory in the National Championship.
Strengths of Nakobe Dean
One thing that defensive coordinator, Joe Barry, preached last season was tackling. After years of porous tackling, the Packers became one of the best tackling units in all of football last season. Nakobe Dean would only improve upon the Packers’ tackling. Dean is a fantastic tackler, led the Bulldogs in tackles in 2020, and was second in tackles (by one) in 2021.
Dean also has elite speed. He is projected to run under a 4.5 40-yard dash. This elite speed helps him keep up with receivers when in coverage. In fact, his coverage skills may be even better than his tackling skills. Dean only allowed a 30.7 passer rating when in coverage. He has the skill set to cover every position.
Dean was pretty injury-free in college; a torn labrum his sophomore year was his most prominent injury. He played through the injury but still played all ten games in 2020. At the end of that season, he had the injury surgically repaired. In 2021, he missed spring training camp but played all 15 games in the 2021-2022 season. Dean also had a few more minor injuries his first year and missed three games that season due to them. There shouldn’t be any cause for concern for his durability.
Weaknesses of Nakobe Dean
Dean is on the smaller side for linebackers, being 6’0″ and only 225lbs. This sometimes prevents him from making a significant impact in the power run game, as he can sometimes struggle to win against bigger linebackers. Thankfully, more undersized linebackers can still be successful in the NFL. London Fletcher was only 5’10”, Devondre Campbell is only 7lbs heavier than Dean at 232lbs. However, in both instances, Fletcher has 20 more pounds on Dean, and Campbell has three more inches.
If Dean can put on 5-10 more pounds of muscle, his size shouldn’t affect his play too much. His size does sometimes come into play in coverage. Against the larger, more physical tight ends, Dean sometimes gets pushed away on their routes. It almost looks like a bigger cornerback lining up against tight ends in some cases.
The only inside linebacker under contract for the Packers is Ty Summers. Even if the Packers are able to bring back DeVondre Campbell, they still need to go after another inside linebacker as they run two ILBs very often. Dean would provide the Packers with a future after Campbell. Campbell will be 29 before the start of next season, so age does become a factor. The re-signing of Campbell would give Dean a mentor to teach him the ropes.
If Campbell isn’t re-signed, Dean gives the Packers a day one starter who has the potential to become a star. Unfortunately, Nakobe Dean will be a hot commodity in this upcoming draft, as he is the number one ILB prospect. Mock drafts range from him going in the early teens to the mid-20s. Gutekunst has shown that he isn’t afraid to move up to take players he wants, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for the Packers to move up. A trade-up for Dean would be most likely, and with six day-three draft picks as ammunition, the Packers are able to move up to take Dean.
For More Great Content:
Don’t forget to follow me @LouisNapolitano and @WiSportsHeroics on Twitter for more great content. To read more of our articles and keep up to date on the latest Wisconsin sports news, click here! Don’t forget to check out our merch store!