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Meet the Prospect: Nakobe Dean

Name: Nakobe Dean

Position: Linebacker

School: Georgia

Ht/Wt: 5-11, 229

40-yard dash: Did not run

Bench: Did not bench

Vertical: Did not jump

Broad: Did not jump

3-cone: Did not run

20-yard shuttle: Did not run

View photos of NFL prospect Nakobe Dean.

How he fits: The 2021 Dick Butkus Award winner tallied 72 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and was second on the team in sacks with six. He also recorded 31 QB hurries, six pass breakups and two interceptions. He was the heart and the centerpiece for the record-setting Georgia defense this past season.

He measured in at 5-foot-11, 229 pounds, but played much bigger than that in helping Georgia win the national title. Unfortunately, he suffered a pectoral injury training for the bench press so he doesn't have any testing numbers. He just started running a couple weeks ago and only did position drills at Georgia's pro day. Teams will want some of those testing numbers before the draft.

But just looking at the film, Dean is an instinctive and rangy linebacker with three-down ability at the pro level. He was a volume tackler at Georgia thanks to his speed and sure tackling ability. Even at his size, he was a big hitter in college, running through ball carriers.

The Lions signed a number of linebackers in free agency, including Alex Anzalone, Chris Board and Jarrad Davis, but Detroit could stand to get a little younger and more athletic at the position, especially in coverage.

Key observations: Dean became the third player to win the Butkus Award in college and high school, joining former Notre Dame stars Manti Te'o and Jaylon Smith. He was also named a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy and the captain of the AFCA Allstate Good Works Team for his community service efforts.

Dean was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus, and was also a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which annually goes to college football's Defensive Player of the Year.

Dean's stat line in the semifinal win over Michigan was impressive: Seven tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, one sack, five QB pressures and one forced fumble.

What they had to say about him: "Dean is an undersized linebacker with exceptional instincts and play-making ability. Against the run, he is quick to read, flow and fill for tackles. He is two steps ahead of everyone on the field because of his combination of knowledge, vision and instincts. He has excellent speed and range. He is a firm, chest-up tackler with a high batting average in space.

"Against the pass, he has the athleticism to match up with RBs and TEs underneath. He has good feel and burst to close as a zone dropper. He is an outstanding blitzer, utilizing timing and the ability to slip blockers for sacks/pressures. The Georgia staff raves about his leadership. Dean reminds me a lot of Jonathan Vilma coming out of Miami." – Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Media analyst

How he stacks up: Dean is the No. 13 overall prospect in Jeremiah's Top 50. He also comes in at No. 2 on analyst Bucky Brooks' list of the Top 5 linebackers in the draft behind Utah's Devin Lloyd and ahead of Christian Harris (Alabama), Troy Andersen (Montana State) and Chad Muma (Wyoming).

Dean is the 12th best prospect in Scout Inc.'s rankings, one spot ahead of Lloyd at 13. He has a "rare prospect" rating of 91 out of 100. He's listed as the second best linebacker in the draft behind Lloyd by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., but isn't one of the Top 25 players on Kiper's Big Board.

What he had to say: "I'm my hardest critic," Dean told Sports Illustrated after Georgia's pro day. "I missed a couple balls. Legs got a little tired, got a little heavy. That's probably me just starting to run last week. All in all, I had fun, and I know what to do to get better ready for football-specific drills."

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