With the no. 28 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select Nakobe Dean.
This pick comes to the Detroit Lions via the Los Angeles Rams from the Matthew Stafford trade. As the Rams continue to win, this selection gets worse and worse. At one point, it appeared as though the Lions had an opportunity to make a selection in the early-to-mid 20s. Falling from no. 23 or 24, to 28 eliminates a couple of elite pass-catchers such as Jameson Williams, Treylon Burkes, and Johan Dotson. It also likely removes linebacker Devin Lloyd who very much resembles Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys.
Michigan fans got a first-hand look at Nakobe Dean in their loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football semi-final. Dean won the 2021 Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker.
The Detroit Lions need a significant upgrade at the second level; adding Dean to a promising Derrick Barnes, who Detroit selected in 2020, gives the Lions a much-needed sideline to sideline combination at the linebacker position. According to PFF, Dean graded out as the top linebacker in 2021, earning an overall mark of 92.6. The Georgia standout played 514 of his 585 defensive snaps in the box.
Dean is a stout 6-foot, 225-pound three-down linebacker. He plays as the weak side linebacker in Georgia’s 4-3 defense. NFL defenses use multiple looks and are in sub-packages as much or more than base looks these days defending the pass-heavy offenses. That may scare some people knowing the Detroit Lions use a 3-4 defense in base looks, but it doesn’t matter in 2022 as much as it used to.
Dean is also a downhill attacking linebacker, usually finishing among the top tacklers. He is athletic enough to adapt to any scheme and rarely misses tackles. He’s proven to be an elite blitzing linebacker.
Dean led the Bulldogs with six sacks, 68 tackles, and 10.5 tackles for loss. The tremendous linebacker also recorded two interceptions, forced two fumbles, defended four passes, and scored a defensive touchdown.
I envision Dean playing alongside Barnes in Detroit’s base look plus the nickel down the road. The Detroit Lions may opt to bring back their signal-caller Alex Anzalone, who is a pending free agent for one more season to help mentor the group of youthful linebackers.
By drafting Dean following Aidan Hutchinson, the Detroit Lions immediately address two significant needs in the first two levels of their defense.
Players passed on: Ahmad Gardner, Drake London, David Bell, Daxton Hill, Jaquan Brisker John Metchie III.