Patriots

Nakobe Dean discussed why he would be a good fit with the Patriots ahead of the NFL Draft

"I definitely enjoyed talking ball with them."

Nakobe Dean
Nakobe Dean returns an interception for a touchdown against Alabama during Georgia's 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship win. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Fresh off helping to lead Georgia to its first National Championship since 1980, linebacker Nakobe Dean is waiting to hear his name called at the NFL Draft.

As a recent ESPN mock draft projected, Dean could land in New England (with draft analyst Todd McShay forecasting the Patriots picking him 21st overall).

It would potentially be a great fit for the multi-talented inside linebacker. For starters, as he told NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry in an interview for the “Next Pats” podcast, Dean’s mother is a Patriots fan.

“Growing up, my mother’s team was the Patriots,” Dean explained. “My mother was a big [Bill] Belichick fan.”

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On a more recent level, Dean said he’s met multiple times with Patriots representatives, including Belichick and Matt Patricia.

“I’ve had meetings with the Patriots,” said Dean. “I definitely enjoyed talking ball with them.”

“Everything we did, they knew,” Dean said of the comparison between Georgia’s defense and what the Patriots do. “It was kind of from under the same tree. I remember talking to the coach, he was like, ‘What was this check when you go empty?’ I’m like, ‘If it’s this, you check this.’ And he was like, ‘Where do you think it came from?’ I’m like, ‘Uh, I don’t know,’ and he was like, ‘We made it up.'”

“They kind of run the same system,” Dean concluded. “Coach [Kirby] Smart actually busted in on me when I was meeting with them. They looked like they had been friends for a long time. You could tell that they were very acquainted with each other. They seem to have the same philosophy when it comes to playing defense, when it comes to playing football. So, that’s great.”

Dean is listed at 5-foot-11, 229 pounds. His size has been cited as a weakness by draft analysts, with NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein noting of Dean that he is “lacking ideal size and length.”

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Still, Dean thrived in the heart of Georgia’s defense playing in the Southeastern Conference, winning the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in college football and being voted a Unanimous All-American.

“I feel like if you can play, you can play no matter what your body says,” Dean said of the pre-draft analysis. “If you can play ball, you can play ball. If you can ball out, you can ball out.

“Looking back on my college career, if I did good it wasn’t going to say, ‘It was because I was 6-2, 230 and I can run like crazy.’ If I did bad, I wouldn’t be like, ‘It’s because I’m 5-11, 230.’ Nothing would have gone back to my size. It’s all about how you work and how you perform on the field.”

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