Most analysts, fans, and coaches would agree that Eagles QB Jalen Hurts is carrying the largest amount of pressure through the halls of the Novacare complex. After an incredible 2022 season, no one would think any less of that thought.
As OTAs kick off in Philadelphia Thursday afternoon, there might just be another player who rivals the pressure that is expected of the quarterback…except he’s on the defensive side of the football.
Nakobe Dean may be a third-round draft pick, but the team is expecting the Georgia standout to not only show his top ability but to also be the leader of a young unit. Fellow linebacker Nicholas Morrow has already confirmed that Nakobe Dean has the green dot or “play-calling” duties for the defense. That means that the responsibility of getting the entire unit set will rest on the 22-year-old’s shoulders.
It’s the trust that new defensive coordinator Sean Desai has in the young linebacker that has the former All-American ready to be given the high honors.
“I’ve been ready, but it’s time to actually do it now, and it’s time for me to put out whatever I can do for this team to ultimately win” Dean has said. “I’m ready to do it.”
Familiarity is key for the Eagles LB
Having former teammates of Dean certainly helps. Philadelphia has drafted former Georgia Bulldogs Nolan Smith, Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter, and Kelee Ringo in the last two years. Those players are well versed in the work ethic of Dean, but also in how he calls plays on defense.
That familiarity should be extremely helpful for a young defense looking to match last year’s top-5 unit. Dean played in 17 games last season but rarely saw the field on the defensive end. He recorded 13 tackles with one coming behind the line of scrimmage. He’s expected to get far more playing time this season.
But with the increase in playing time comes an increase in pressure and responsibility. His teammates and coaches already believe he’s ready for that increased role. It looks like the linebacker is ready as well.
Dean reportedly stayed back after the starters and veterans were excused to help the Eagles rookies prepare for the coming practices. That type of leadership isn’t something that is built in by the coaching staff, it’s earned and has been within Dean since he was a Bulldog.
And it’s the clearest example that he’s ready for the starting job in the Eagles defense. With the departures of T.J. Edwards and Kyzir white during the offseason, it was evident that the franchise had big plans for Dean. Now he has the opportunity to show every other NFL team why he was expected to be a first round pick. After sliding all the way to the third round, it looks like the Eagles have the right man for the job.
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