Dean bringing alpha personality to middle of Eagles defense


It’s a moment that might best describe what Nakobe Dean meant to the Georgia football team.

And it’s a moment that can show Eagles fans exactly what they’re getting.

A few months ago during the National Championship Game, Dean was seen laying into his Bulldogs teammate and fellow linebacker Channing Tindall, who was a tad indecisive with his responsibility on a play at the goal line. Dean let him have it. As the leader of the defense, Dean held his teammate accountable.

“He had some kind words, that’s all I’ve got to say,” Tindall said, laughing at the combine.

Tindall understood why Dean was hard on him. He picked up a sack on the next play and Georgia ended up winning the national championship, beating Alabama 33-18. And the two are still close buddies.

A total of 15 Georgia players were drafted this year, including eight on that all-time defense. Amazingly, Dean slipped into the third round and was the eighth Bulldog drafted. But ask anyone on that team and they’ll tell you Dean was the alpha leader of the national champion team.

And that’s the personality Dean is bringing with him to Philadelphia. Even if he won’t be able to show it immediately.

“They give me that, right?” Dean said last week at Eagles rookie camp. “I don’t go around saying, ‘I’ve got an alpha personality.’ For me, I feel like it’s just me getting to know everybody.

“As far as running the defense or being the playcaller or doing my job, whatever that might be, to the best of my ability. So I feel like all them people around me getting connecting, get to know me more, it will begin to show.”

Dean, 21, understands that he can’t show up on Day 1 of OTAs and just assume his eventual role as the leader of the Eagles’ defense among veterans who have been in the league for many years. He has to earn that.

He has to prove himself to his new teammates with his work ethic, his ability and his production on the field. No one is listening to a leader who fails in any of those areas.

So what’s the origin of Dean’s alpha personality?

“From an on-field standpoint, I feel like it just comes from me taking care of my business and being a guy that can be accountable,” Dean said. “Being a guy that people can count on.”

While Dean was a third-round pick, he was considered by many to be a first-round talent and arguably the best linebacker in the 2022 draft class. He slipped to pick 83 because of injury concerns and his slight frame but Dean was a full participant in last weekend’s rookie minicamp and is expected to play for the Eagles as a rookie despite reports that suggested the 2022 season could be a redshirt year.

The Eagles signed Kyzir White as a free agent on a one-year deal and still have T.J. Edwards, Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley on the roster. But Dean will have a good chance to start and play a huge role in Year 1.

After just a couple days, Dean was already making an impression on his new squad.

“I can sense he's all ball all the time,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “Whether we are in a meeting or on the field, he's locked in.”

Of course, there are other aspects to Dean’s personality. At Georgia, he was a mechanical engineering major who had a GPA of 3.55 and hasn’t ruled out going pre-med at some point.

Dean grew up as the son of two former military parents. He remembers going to the Veterans Affairs office as a kid and seeing some vets who were missing limbs. That gave Dean the idea that he one day wanted to work in prosthetics to help those folks. When it came time for him to pick his major, that’s why Dean went with engineering.

Dean was good at studying for school and also for football. His on-field instincts aren’t all-natural. He works incredibly hard and thinks his experience as an inside linebacker has developed those instincts. He sees plenty of formation tendencies that are common with all offenses and it gives him an advantage.

During the draft, Dean was surprised about the slide and he isn’t ready to let it go. It’s something that will stick with him. Although, he doesn’t consider that draft day slide to be one of his top sources of motivation.

After his family, he said his biggest source of motivation are the kids back in his hometown of Horn Lake, Mississippi.

“I always wanted to be better than everybody I looked up to,” Dean said. “When I go back home, I try to tell the kids, I don’t want y’all to try to be like me. I want y’all to be better than me. But I’m going to make it hard.”

It’s easy to see why everyone at Georgia raves about Dean.

In fact, Eagles GM Howie Roseman told a story the night the Eagles drafted Dean. He was in Athens to scout the dozen-plus players who expected to be drafted and Roseman was asking coaches down there about a few of them. And they all kept saying a different version of the same thing:

“Don't forget Nakobe Dean,” Roseman recalled. “Don't forget Nakobe Dean and what he means to this football team.”

The Eagles hope Dean will have a similar impact in Philly. If he’s just himself, he has a real shot.

Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast

Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube

Contact Us