Smith is an All-Pro. The thinking here is he is every bit as gifted as a talent scout for elite NFL linebackers.
It appears that the majority of the NFL wasn’t so certain. Dean was passed over by most of the league not only once, but multiple times in some cases.
The Eagles took Dean off the board deep in the third round with the 83rd pick. Dean was in Las Vegas on Thursday hoping to hear his name called in the first round, but he finally became the eighth Bulldog from the 2021 national championship team taken in this year’s draft.
Dean was named one of four permanent team captains for the Bulldogs last season. He might not have the best long-term potential for the pro game of all those names that came off the board on Thursday, but he’s as good of a player as any of them.
There’s a long and distinguished football resume to back all of that up.
He won the high school Butkus Award. The Mississippi native then repeated with the college version of the award given to the sport’s top linebacker. That’s a pretty rare feat, but pretty much what Dean has been doing all his life.
The former 5-star recruit had quite the resume at Georgia. Consider the following:
- Named All-SEC 1st team by the Associated Press and the Coaches’ All-SEC
- Pro Football Focus (PFF) named him the SEC Defensive Player of the Year
- He was named as one of four team captains as voted by his teammates
- Dean was named captain of the 2021 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, chosen for their commitment to community service.
- He started at ILB in all 15 games and finished the season with 72 total tackles
- He led the Bulldogs in tackles for loss with 10.5 and was second on the team in QB sacks (6.0). The Horn Lakes High Schoo graduate also finished with 31 QB hurries and six pass breakups
- The high-academic and high-character Bulldog never made a “B” in high school. He carries a 3.53 grade-point average in mechanical engineering at UGA. His career emphasis in that field has been in prosthetics.
- Dean started in all 39 games he was available to play for the Bulldogs across his three seasons.
Dean had been projected to go much higher in the draft over the last two months, but his stock was hurt by the fact he was not able to run the 40 for NFL scouts at the annual combine and also at his UGA Pro Day.
He was also noted for having a less-than-ideal height at the position. Or arm length.
That’s what the NFL Draft has always been about. The scouting tools. The long-term best possible display of an individual’s talent.
There have also been some reported concerns about Dean’s injury history during his time at Georgia. He played through the 2020 season with a shoulder injury and had surgery to correct it. He also suffered a torn pectoral muscle while training for draft workouts leading up to this month.
Dean never missed a game at UGA due to injury. He also never had off-games or bad tape or at a level below an All-SEC level in 2020 or at an All-American level in 2021.