There was nothing he could do. Nakobe Dean had to sit there while people said things and wrote things he believed weren’t true.
He might need surgery to repair his pectoral injury. He might not be ready for the start of the season. He might even have to miss the entire season.
“That was the nerve-wracking part about it, the whole thing,” Dean said early Saturday morning. “You know, listening to things that are not true and it's costing me a lot of money. And just seeing my mama’s face, and for me falling and to hear things like that, that was just the (worst) thing.”
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Dean, the playmaking Georgia linebacker, was widely projected as a 1st-round pick before rumors and whispers about his injuries began spreading.
He dropped all the way to the middle of the third round, where the Eagles snagged him with the 83rd pick Friday but not before he went through an agonizing two days of waiting.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking, especially not knowing exactly why I was falling like that,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, I feel like I got picked by a great organization and I'm just ready to get to work.”
Whatever the rumor mill was saying, the Eagles believe something entirely different.
Howie Roseman was adamant that not only will Dean be healthy enough to play this year, he’ll be participating in minicamp next week.
“We know that people had some concerns, but Nakobe Dean is going to be on the field this week when we have rookie mini-camp,” he said. “He has a pec injury that does not require surgery. He's going to be on the field this weekend. We don't anticipate missed time now. He'll come in here and take a physical, and we'll double-check all those things.”
Added Dean: “I know minicamp is next week and I expect to be a full participant for that. I’m ready to go.”
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ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that independent doctors sent a letter to all 32 teams identifying Dean's injury as a pec strain that would heal on its own and not a tear that would require surgery and clearing him immediately to play football.
Where did the surgery rumors come from?
“That was the thing that was so surprising and mind-boggling,” Dean said. “I went to doctors, got second opinions and everything, and nobody, nobody, said I should have surgery. Nobody had told me I had to have surgery.
“So for that to come up and for teams to be saying that and waiting until the day of the draft to say something like that, that was kind of crazy to me.”
Roseman said the Eagles actually considered selecting Dean at No. 51, but they wound up picking Nebraska center Cam Jurgens.
When Dean was still on the board one round later, it was a no-brainer.
“Listen, I think I called our doctors three, four times to see, ‘Am I missing something?’” Roseman said. “We brought him in (for a physical). ‘Am I missing something?’”
Roseman said he’s convinced Dean’s drop was related to the pec injury and concerns that a player who will be a free agent in four years would miss one of those years.
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“I think they clearly did,” he said after the third round was over. “That’s what it sounds like.”
As he alluded to, Dean’s drop did cost him a lot of money.
Last year, the 51st player in the draft, Washington offensive tackle Sam Cosmi, got a four-year, $6,625,568 contract with a $2,178,596 signing bonus, and the 83rd player, Panthers tight end Tommy Tremble, got four years at $4,926,432 with a $942,860 bonus.
Those numbers will be a bit higher this year, but the point is the same. If Dean indeed is healthy, doesn’t need surgery and will be ready for opening day, those rumors cost him potentially nearly $3 million over the next four years and over $1 million in immediate cash.
“Why I dropped, it's not in my control,” he said. “Nothing I can do. There was nothing I could do to make them pick me earlier. … 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.”
Time will tell, but the Eagles believe they stole an elite linebacker with 1st-round talent in the third round.
Roseman, sitting next to Nick Sirianni, looked at the Eagles' coach and finished with this:
“And I will tell you, talking to Nakobe tonight, you're going to have to hold his ass back.”