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Georgia inside linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) during Georgia’s Pro Day at Payne Indoor Athletic Facility in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
Mackenzie Miles

‘Frustrated’ Nakobe Dean slowed by injury during Georgia football Pro Day

ATHENS — It was surprising when Nakobe Dean didn’t participate in drills at NFL combine in Indianapolis. The standout Georgia linebacker would’ve loved to showcase to teams why he is deserving of being a first-round draft pick.

Unfortunately, Dean picked up a pectoral injury while training for the bench press. Because of said injury, Dean only just began running again last week and was not 100 percent at Georgia’s pro day. He was limited only to positional drills and will instead hope to run for teams at a later date.

“Not everything is going to go the way you planned it,” Dean said. “It’s definitely a little frustrating but I can only control what I can control.

Even those position drills, Dean felt he wasn’t up to his usual standard.

“I felt decent. I’m my hardest critic,” Dean said. “I missed a couple of balls, my legs got a little heavy, that’s probably from me just starting to run last week. All in all, I had fun. I know what I need to do to get better.”

Dean’s standard though is higher than most. He won the Butkus Award last season as the nation’s top linebacker and was a First Team All-American. He also shared the field with Channing Tindall and Quay Walker, two other linebackers who figure to be taken early in the upcoming NFL draft.

Playing with that level of competition certainly seemed to help prep Dean for what he’ll see at the next level.

“He was a year younger than those guys, so all those guys were a year younger than him,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said of Dean. “I certainly think his character, his competitiveness. To get on the field in that room, you had to be on it. It raised the standard, it raised the bar.”

Related: Genius of Nakobe Dean on display as Georgia football sets up rematch against Alabama

Depending on which mock draft you elect to read, Dean is still being slotted as a first-round pick. There’s certainly a possibility he could be the first off-ball linebacker off the board, as he is competing with Utah’s Devin Lloyd for that honor.

Dean mentioned that he had spoken with the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants. New England head coach Bill Belichick and Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin were both on hand at Georgia’s pro day on Wednesday.

That Dean even went through drills on Wednesday perhaps further illustrates what kind of person and teammate he is. It mattered to Dean to be out there on the field with his teammates as they prepare for their NFL futures.

Given Walker, Tindall and Dean figure to all play on Sundays going forward, Wednesday was the most likely the last time all three were on the field together competing.

“I know it was going to be one of the last times I was going to be able to get on the field with Quay and Channing, so I just wanted to be on the field with my guys and work with them,” Dean said. “I just wanted to enjoy this moment with them. It’s just great being out there with them.”

Dean does have some more time to heal before the NFL draft, and he does plan on being 100 percent when rookie minicamps start. The first round of the NFL draft is set for April 27. Given all he did in his time at Georgia, Dean shouldn’t have to wait much longer to find his next home.

Nakobe Dean ‘frustrated’ with injury at UGA Pro Day

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