(Editor's Note: While the start of the 2022 NFL Draft isn't until late-April, it's never too early to profile some of the key participants. The staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of the draft's top prospects, with an emphasis on possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today's featured player is Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean.
- Name: Nakobe Dean
- Position: LB
- College: Georgia
- Height/Weight: 5-11 /226
- Did You Know? Dean won the 2021 Butkus Award winner as the nation's best linebacker.
Where He's Projected:
This is going to be a theme for probably all players over the next few weeks, but Dean is projected all over the map. Some as high as the mid-first round, to maybe towards the bottom and then he could even be a second-round pick. That's the norm for a lot of players and Dean is no exception.
The same reason he's probably rated so high on the board could be the reason he's not as high on other boards – and that's his size. That size of 5-11, 226 is somewhat small for a linebacker, especially in a 3-4 scheme where he'll be in the middle of the field. That size also allows him to chase the ball all over the field and make plays because of his awareness and speed. Like all linebackers in the draft, he'll have to be a perfect fit for the scheme, which means he could be a target in the high-teens, or drop down to the second round. Either way, Dean is a playmaker and a ready-made player in the NFL.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
Dean would help right away because linebacker still is a position that needs more depth. And that's somewhat surprising to say considering the Cowboys have drafted three linebackers in either the first or second round since 2016. But Jaylon Smith is no longer here, Leighton Vander Esch re-signed last week on a 1-year deal but hasn't played like his Pro Bowl rookie season in 2018. And then there's Micah Parsons, who looks to be one of the NFL's best defensive players already, but he could be rushing the passer more from the edge. So Dean would be another sideline-to-sideline player at linebacker that would probably allow Parsons even more freedom to rush.
Kyle Youmans' Report: Lots of potential for Dean because of his ability to assess the opposing situation and attack. Leadership both on and off the field is noted for a guy who was responsible in rallying the troops for a historically good defense. He'll most likely have to adjust to the NFL game because of how much bigger and stronger the competition is, two things he had trouble against in the SEC. Also not to mention, he won't have an overly dominant front four.