‘Pec strain’ limits Nakobe Dean’s participation at Georgia’s Pro Day

Georgia inside linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) during Georgia’s Pro Day at Payne Indoor Athletic Facility in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)

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Georgia inside linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) during Georgia’s Pro Day at Payne Indoor Athletic Facility in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)

ATHENS — There probably was more anticipation surrounding Nakobe Dean running the 40-yard dash for scouts at Georgia’s Pro Day on Wednesday than for almost any prospect the Bulldogs have produced in recent years.

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Alas, Georgia’s star linebacker did not run. Turns out, there was a good reason.

“He has a pec strain,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart revealed, meaning a strained pectoral muscle. “He was getting ready for the combine and doing a lot of bench press and strained his pec. So, he hasn’t been able to train as much.”

Dean, who is getting a lot of first-round draft consideration, did some position drills for what was a record turnout of NFL scouts and personnel executives. But otherwise he spent most of his time Wednesday in the shadows of the western wall of Georgia’s Payne Indoor Athletic Facility with a hoodie pulled over his head.

“Just had a little setback during training and just started running last Tuesday. So, I’m really just getting back,” Dean said. “But I knew I wanted to come out here and do something and get on the field with my guys. I know it might be one of my last times to be with them, Quay (Walker) and Channing (Tindall), in a workweek, so I just wanted to be on the field with them.”

Dean wasn’t sure when he’d be able to run for scouts. “Time will tell,” he said. More than likely, it will have to come in private workouts for teams that have specifically requested him between now and April 28, the first day of the NFL draft.

The good news for Dean is he has a lot of game video to do his talking for him. The Butkus Award winner was a two-year starter at inside linebacker for the Bulldogs. An AP and Coaches’ All-SEC first-team selection for the 2021 season, Dean started all 15 games at middle linebacker as a junior last season and finished the season with 72 total tackles. He led the Bulldogs in tackles for loss with 10.5 and was second on the team in sacks (6.0). He was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus.

Dean said the most important thing is he will be ready to play football full-speed by the time the draft rolls around, or certainly well before rookie training camps.

“That’s the main goal,” Dean said. “To have my body ready for the draft and for OTAs, rookie camp, things like that. That’s my main goal to be 100% by then.”