In this series, Pete Hailey will preview 11 players whom the Commanders could select with the 11th overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Next up: Linebacker Nakobe Dean.
Background: Will turn 22 in December... 5-foot-11, 229-pound defender... Horn Lake, Mississippi native... Played three years at Georgia... 72 tackles (10.5 for loss), six sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles in 2021... Was a unanimous All-American choice in 2021.
Biggest strength: Quickness isn't something you typically hear when discussing linebackers, but Dean is one of the rare second-level players who possesses that trait and has a rare version of it, too.
As a Bulldog, Dean leaned on his agility to get home on blitzes, beat blockers to their spot and correct his mistakes on the fly the few times he does err. And that burst will only become more of an advantage the more he learns about opposing offenses and what keys to pay attention to pre- and post-snap.
By the way, don't let this hype about Dean's fast feet lead to the assumption that he's only useful in open space. There's no fear in his game, either, as he's absolutely willing to be the most physical player on the field.
Biggest question mark: Unfortunately for Dean, one of the things he can't control — his size — is probably the aspect about him that scouting reports are most bearish on.
While height is not a prerequisite for being a baller at linebacker — Washington fans will recall all of London Fletcher's success, for example — it can be a hindrance as a tackler, in coverage and more.
Dean can continue to put on muscle in an NFL weight room and, as mentioned, he can also further develop his instincts in order to put himself in the best position possible on a down-to-down basis. However, he may find himself overmatched against certain running backs in the hole or various tight ends down the field, and that's an issue that sometimes can't be masked.
Potential fit in Washington: Commanders fans won't love the thought of drafting another linebacker in the first round, and they absolutely won't love the thought of drafting another linebacker in the first round whose calling card is quickness. Jamin Davis — last year's top rookie — has a lot of improving to do, after all.
Still, Dean is a different prospect than Davis. He logged more experience in college than Davis did and is more suited for a role in the middle of a defense. He could be that missing piece to the unit that Ron Rivera is searching for and would settle in nicely between Davis and Cole Holcomb.
The problem, however, is the value of selecting Dean at No. 11. That would probably be viewed as a reach, as he'd be a more acceptable pick if the club is able to trade down in the order.
Having said all that, Dean is renowned for his leadership, his maturity and his multifaceted production. He has a good chance of being a longtime linebacker as a pro, regardless of whether that journey starts in Washington or not.
Random and probably ultimately useless fact that's being included in this story anyway: Dean is a member of #TeamMilk, a squad that Terry McLaurin is also a part of. Should the two meet up as Commanders, perhaps they can crack a cold one... of milk.
Previous profiles: WR Treylon Burks | CB Trent McDuffie | S Kyle Hamilton | LB Devin Lloyd | WR Garrett Wilson | WR Drake London | CB Derek Stingley Jr. | WR Chris Olave | CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner