The Philadelphia Eagles are going to look a little different on defense this upcoming season. Multiple key contributors to their unit, including defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, moved on this offseason.
The one position that was arguably hit the hardest in free agency was linebacker. T.J. Edwards was one of the first players to agree to a deal in free agency, joining the Chicago Bears. Kyzir White followed Gannon to the Arizona Cardinals, leaving two starting spots open.
One of those spots will likely be filled by 2022 third-round pick, Nakobe Dean. Dean shockingly dropped down the board, giving the Eagles one of the best value picks of last year’s draft. Alas, his opportunities as a rookie to prove the teams wrong who passed over him were few and far between.
Dean played only 34 defensive snaps last season, being used almost exclusively as a special teams player. He was on the field for 75 percent of the Eagles’ special teams snaps, which was 340 plays.
In 2023, those numbers are likely to flip. Dean is near the top of the depth chart at the linebacker position and he shared earlier this week that he is prepared for his new role, whatever it may be.
“It just shows that they’re ready for me to step up,” Dean said, via Dave Zangaro of NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com. “I feel like I’m ready to step up. I’ve been ready. But as we do it now, it’s time for me to put out whatever I can do for this team to win ultimately.” (H/T ProFootballTalk)
Dean will be one of the few players this season thrust into bigger roles and it sounds like he is ready for it. However, he does have some big shoes to fill as Edwards and White were the team’s leading tacklers last season with 159 and 110, respectively.
During his time with the Bulldogs, Dean was all over the field making plays. The Eagles are hoping that will translate to the next level this year as he could be in the starting lineup come Week 1.