Entering the 2022 NFL Draft, Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean was a popular prediction to be a first-round pick, if not the first selection at his position. A playmaker for the Bulldogs' national championship defense, he even drew some comparisons to fellow Georgia product Roquan Smith, the Bears' two-time second-team All-Pro. Concerns over his injury history, as well as a current pectoral issue, dented Dean's draft stock, however, to the point the All-American slid all the way to the third round Friday. The Eagles ultimately ended that slide at No. 83, selecting Dean to be the new face of their linebacker corps.
A top-15 national recruit coming into Georgia and one of college football's most productive linebackers before declaring for the draft, the 21-year-old Dean is recovering from a "severe pec injury," per NFL Media, and recently opted against surgery to repair the issue -- a decision that has apparently concerned teams around the NFL. Others are also wary of his medical track record, according to ESPN's Pete Thamel, with the combination of his size (5-11, 229), injuries (previous ankle and shoulder issues) and projected durability scaring potential suitors away.
Dean, it should be noted, never missed a game due to injury during his college career. His pectoral issue prevented him from full participation in workouts at the scouting combine and Georgia's Pro Day in the pre-draft process, however. It's unclear how long he might be sidelined while rehabbing from the injury without surgery.
At any rate, the Eagles got one of the best players from a title-winning college program, two rounds after he was widely expected to go. Dean led Georgia in tackles as a sophomore before winning the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker, with a playmaking 2021 campaign after a spring recovery from labrum surgery. He was also a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy for his third and final college season, when he totaled 72 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and two interceptions. Once healthy in Philadelphia, he figures to be an immediate starting middle linebacker for Jonathan Gannon's defense.