Reasons for optimism, reasonable expectations for Nakobe Dean’s second Eagles season

Nakobe Dean enters the 2023 NFL regular season with both expectations and the potential to shine as Philly's new starting middle linebacker.
Cleveland Browns v Philadelphia Eagles
Cleveland Browns v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Eagles have young players expected to assume prominent roles during the 2023 regular season. Rookie defensive tackle Jalen Carter, and first-year outside linebacker Nolan Smith have opportunities to make good first impressions with the club. Then, there is middle linebacker Nakobe Dean. He is another player who will be given a chance to make an impact and place his stamp on the organization.

Dean finished with 13 combined tackles in 17 regular-season contests last year. Now, he's the play caller on defense. The Horn Lake, Mississippi native has big shoes to fill following the departure of former starter, linebacker T.J. Edwards. The latter left this past March during the most recent free agency frenzy, but the 'next-man-up' may be up to the task. He showed some playmaking ability in the second preseason game.

Dawgs gotta eat indeed. Hopefully, that translates to the regular season. That is exactly the type of playmaking ability that Philly would like to see from their second-year star at the linebacker position.

Everyone has their theories on what success should look like for Nakobe Dean, but here are reasonable expectations for the Eagles star.

Nakobe Dean has a tremendous opportunity ahead of him. The 22-year-old is entering the 2023 season as a starting linebacker for the defending NFC Champions, but he is playing in a demanding city for a demanding fan base.

If things aren't going well, the NFL's most loyal fan base and the local media won't hesitate to let him know that he needs to improve. Not too much pressure, for the 22-year-old, right?

They say availability is a skill, and fingers are crossed that Dean is available for every contest this year and won't have to miss time because of injuries. That will serve him well in his development.

He dealt with an ankle contusion during the most recent training camp. There was the issue with a torn pectoral muscle leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft. In short, the hope is these are exceptions to the rule and that Dean isn't injury-prone. We'll learn a lot about whether or not we should be concerned this season.

Dean's final NCAA football season with the Georgia Bulldogs (2021) was his most successful. He appeared in 15 contests. He collected 72 combined tackles, six sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. His breakout year earned him the Butkus Award, one that is given to the best linebacker in college football.

Former Eagles linebacker Alex Singleton led the club with 138 combined tackles in 16 games during the 2021 regular season. He also finished with four passes defended, one interception, and one forced fumble.

Last season, Edwards finished with 159 total tackles in 17 regular season contests. He also added two sacks, one fumble recovery, and seven passes defended to his resume.

We'd like to see Nakobe Dean appear in 14-17 regular-season games and register a minimum of 90-100 total tackles during the coming affair to qualify this as a successful season. We wouldn't be upset of we saw a combination of some of the following stats as well.

  • Somewhere between two and four sacks
  • One to three interceptions
  • Four to seven passes defended
  • One to two forced fumbles
  • One to two fumble recoveries
  • Is a Pro Bowl nod too much to ask for?

Dean has demonstrated his ability for big play potential during his collegiate career at Georgia. The Eagles are counting on him to fulfill a starting role in his second season. The club could end up with a steal if he makes an impact for them in 2023 similar to his final year with the Bulldogs.

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