Potential first-round target Nakobe Dean gushed over Patriots in pre-draft interview
By Jerry Trotta
Less than three weeks remain until the 2022 NFL Draft, and we can almost feel the pressure mounting on the New England Patriots.
Equipped with the No. 21 overall pick, the Patriots are in a prime position to nab a franchise cornerstone player. You can’t always say that for picks beyond the top-12, but the incoming class is one of the deepest in recent memory.
With needs at wide receiver (albeit to a lesser extent after the DeVante Parker trade), cornerback, offensive guard and linebacker, Bill Belichick and Co. should keep it simple and draft the best player available in the first round.
With Ja’Whaun Bentley and Mack Wilson slated as the current starters at linebacker, Georgia’s Nakobe Dean could be a potential target
Throughout the pre-draft process, fans and pundits have clamored for Dean to be available at pick No. 21. Those calls will seemingly only get louder once fans watch Dean’s Patriots-centric interview with NFL Network.
Potential Patriots draft target Nakobe Dean thinks he’s the missing piece on New England’s defense.
To Dean’s credit, he admitted to being a Steelers fans growing up. His mother, on the other hand, has been a longtime supporter of New England. The Georgia linebacker even noted she was more of a Belichick fan than a Patriots diehard.
Dean’s mother definitely has good taste, as Belichick seems like the perfect coach to maximize the 21-year-old’s skillet. Though undersized, the former Bulldog boasts the speed and playmaking ability the Patriots desperately need in the second level of their defense.
In 2021, Dean won the Butkus Award as college football’s best linebacker after he totaled 72 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, two interceptions, five passes and two forced fumbles for the eventual national champion Bulldogs.
What Dean lacks in size and length, he more than makes up for in speed, natural instincts and a high football IQ. The fact his frame didn’t impede him from becoming one of the country’s top defenders just speaks to his talent. And the fact he did it in the nation’s toughest conference (the SEC) just hammers our point home.
It remains to be seen whether Dean will be get drafted by New England, but the standout linebacker has been regularly mocked to the Patriots by draft prognosticators, including Dane Brugler of The Athletic.
In a recent chat with ESPN’s Mike Reiss, expert Todd McShay said he “would kill” to see Dean drafted by the Patriots.
"The one player I would kill to see with the Patriots — just because I love him and know where he would excel the most would be in New England with Bill — would be Nakobe Dean.I’ve talked and met with him, and I’ve talked with multiple scouts and we all kind of agree: There isn’t a better player in this class in terms of football IQ. You match that IQ with what New England tries to do — they’re so multiple and differentiate from week to week — that would be a lot of fun to watch."
See? It’s not just Dean’s mother who sees the Patriots as a perfect fit for the Georgia product. We tend to agree with McShay, but it’ll up to New England to decide whether Dean, if he’s even available, would be the best pick at No. 21.