Georgia’s Nakobe Dean to ‘fully participate’ in Eagles’ minicamp

Former Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean (center) is ready to get started on his NFL career with the Eagles. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

caption arrowCaption
Former Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean (center) is ready to get started on his NFL career with the Eagles. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

ATHENS — Indications continue to pour in that the Philadelphia Eagles got the steal of the 2022 NFL draft in Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean.

As it turns out, the Eagles will be among the first NFL teams to conduct their rookie minicamp, which begins Friday in Philadelphia. Dean, who dropped to the third round due to injury concerns, will be a “full participant,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman said team doctors “quadruple checked” all available medical information and contacts on Dean before deciding to select Dean in the third round with the 83rd overall pick. He said they almost took him at No. 51.

ExploreGeorgia likely to have significant presence in 2023 NFL draft

Dean, captain of Georgia’s top-ranked, national championship defense and the Butkus Award winner, was projected as a late first-round selection and was invited by the NFL to attend the draft in person in Las Vegas. Dean, Matt Corral and Malik Willis ended up being left unselected in the Green Room.

“Listening to things that are not true and it’s costing me a lot of money, and just seeing my mama’s face for me falling and to hear things like that, that was just the biggest thing,” Dean told reporters afterward. “But, at the end of the day, I’m blessed. I feel like I got picked by a great organization, and I’m ready to work.”

Reservations about Dean’s health surfaced in the days leading to the start of the draft last Thursday. The “rumors,” as Dean called them, were that he had elected to bypass recommended surgeries. Dean had shoulder labrum surgery in the winter of 2021 and sat out Georgia’s spring practice while rehabilitating. He played last season wearing a brace on his right shoulder but did not miss any games. In fact, Dean did not miss a game during his college career, starting the last 25.

ExplorePhotos: Kirby Smart, Steve Spurrier, other coaches go golfing at Peach Bowl Challenge

Dean also dealt with some knee issues in college. Then, he tore a pectoral muscle during bench-press training for the NFL combine. All the while, Dean has insisted he is fine.

“I went to doctors, got second opinions and everything, and nobody – nobody – said I should have surgery,” Dean said. “Nobody had told me I had to have surgery.”

Simultaneous to all this came the official proclamation of Dean as the Arthur Ashe Jr. Male Sports Athlete of the Year. News of that distinction was originally released in early April, but Diversity Education magazine, which sponsors the award, published the story this week detailing the factors that went into Dean’s selection. Georgia linebackers coach Glenn Schumann and Dean’s academic adviser are quoted in the article.

“Nakobe as an athlete is extremely self-motivated, and this goes into all walks of his life,” Schumann says. “He’s the picture of a self-starter. He’s hard on himself. He’s a guy that has an expectation for what he wants to accomplish and what it should look like, and he’s not going to relent from meeting expectations.”

Says Cory Kopaniasz, his adviser: “He’s a hardworking kid that is so driven. He works his tail off to do well academically. It’s important for him to do his best in the classroom.”

The junior from Horn Lake, Miss., currently has a 3.55 grade-point average in mechanical engineering at UGA. He has not graduated because of his early entry in the NFL draft but said he intends to finish.

“Everything I set out to do at the University of Georgia, I have done, other than graduate,” Dean said. “I am getting my degree no matter what. I’ve got to.”

Dean said his mother used to take him to the Veteran Affairs Hospital 20 minutes away in Memphis. Inspired by the amputees he met there, he told Diversity Education his goal is to design and build prosthetics.

Despite the full knowledge of Dean’s on-field and off-field accomplishments, seven other inside linebackers were selected ahead of him, including Montana State’s Troy Andersen, who went to the Falcons in the second round.

Dean plans to have the last laugh.

“It’s done nothing but make my chip grow bigger,” he said.

Dawg Tag: The AJC presents a daily look at the one thing you need to know about Georgia athletics today.