There is no compromise, Nakobe Dean must be a top-5 NFL Draft pick

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 02: Nakobe Dean #17 of the Georgia Bulldogs reacts in the second half against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Sanford Stadium on October 2, 2021 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 02: Nakobe Dean #17 of the Georgia Bulldogs reacts in the second half against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Sanford Stadium on October 2, 2021 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Georgia football had a historic defense take the field in 2021 that helped lead them to a national championship, and their general was Nakobe Dean, who will now take his talents to the NFL.

The mock drafts currently have him in the first round, which is understandable, but this young man is worthy of being a top-5 draft pick.

Dean was a force for the Dawgs. He was the general that led the troops into battle each week. He coached his teammates on the field, made plays in the backfield or coverage — there wasn’t much he couldn’t do.

He won the Butkus Award in 2021 as the best linebacker in college football, yet the likes of Aidan Hutchinson are ahead of him on the mock drafts. Some may even think he could go No.1 overall if Jacksonville decides to take him.

Yes, I’m aware the two don’t play the same position, but I’m also mindful that Dean is a better football player than Hutchinson.

Nakobe Dean must be a Top-5 draft pick because there aren’t any other defenders better than him.

His size seems to be a factor for what could hold teams back from drafting him, but Dean makes up for his size with his sheer ability to play the game of football.

When looking at countless mock drafts from Mel Keiper’s on ESPN, the CBS Sports mock drafts, PFF’s, and NFL.coms’ all have Dean at a different spot.

Most of them have Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal at the No.1 overall spot, which will probably happen. After that, the drafts look different. For this article, though, we will focus on Daniel Jeremiah’s mock draft.

Jeremiah has Neal at No.1, but here is how he predicts the rest of the top-5 will go:

  • No. 2 Detroit Lions: Aiden Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan
  • No. 3 Houston Texans: Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame
  • No. 4 New York Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon
  • No. 5 New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, N.C. State

Jeremiah has the Giants taking Utah linebacker

at the No. 7 pick. While Lloyd put up some numbers, it wasn’t enough for him to win the Butkus. He doesn’t even have Dean as the top linebacker in the draft.

His first Dawg off the board is Travon Walker, at No.13 by Cleveland. Jeremiah’s second Georgia player off the board is Jordan Davis at No. 21 by New England.

At the No. 24 pick, Jeremiah suggests that Dallas will snag Dean. Jeremiah said in his mock draft that Dean is one of his favorite players but that his size isn’t ideal.

Dean would be a steal for the Cowboys this low, and of course, this is just a mock prediction, but still, it seems disrespectful.

Roquan Smith went No. 8 in the 2018 NFL Draft, and he is one inch taller than Dean and only seven pounds heavier. Dean is 6-0 and 225-pounds, while Smith is 6-1 and 232-pounds. This size argument seems kind of an excuse not to give this young man the credit he deserves.

Sure Hutchinson is a talented edge rusher, so is Thibodeaux, but they don’t quite have the same instincts that Dean does. Plus, they played in the Big 10 and Pac 12 conferences, where the talent difference is quite apparent.

I’m not taking away what they did this past season because it was impressive. Hutchinson finished with 62 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, two forced fumbles and 12 quarterback hurries.

Thibodeaux recorded 50 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, seven sacks, two forced fumbles and eight quarterback hurries.

Both were incredible behind the line of scrimmage, but so was Dean. And once again, these are two different positions, but Dean has an argument to be a top-five pick.

In his junior season at Georgia, Dean racked up 72 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, two interceptions, including one pick-six, six pass breakups, 28 quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.

So he had 10 more tackles than Hutchinson and 22 more than Thibodeaux. While the two edge rushers did a better job with tackles for loss and sacks, Dean put more pressure on quarterbacks. That quarterback hurry stat is essential because it causes havoc and mistakes.

Dean played in the toughest league and thrived at it. Against Michigan, he recorded seven tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, forced a fumble and had five quarterback hurries.

On the other hand, Hutchinson saw four tackles and one tackle for loss against Georgia. That is significant of how talented the Dawgs’ offensive line is versus a lot of the other Big 10 ones.

If we compare him and Lloyd, one of the first differences is size. Lloyd is 6-3 and 235 pounds. He recorded 110 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, eight sacks, four interceptions, six breakups and two quarterback hurries.

He was a monster for the Utes, and we’re not taking that away from him, but there is still a difference.

Dean has the speed and ability to run down a player from across the field. His horizontal speed is top-notch and something to consider. It is ridiculous to believe that his size is hindering his game so much that the experts drop him to the No. 24 pick and that it affects his game.

He is aggressive when he needs to be, but his ability to spy, understand what an offense is planning, and move his teammates into the right places makes him even more remarkable.

Dean is an elite linebacker who is explosive and versatile. He is a playmaker, and his size doesn’t hinder him from doing whatever he needs to on the field.

Of course, these mock drafts could change once he has his pro-day because once people see what he can do, no one should care about his size.

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Dean deserves to be a top-5 pick. If he goes outside the top-10, then those NFL teams will miss out on what will be the league’s next great linebacker.