Nakobi Dean from Eagles has a mature approach to being a backup

This is a new area for Nakobe Dean.

The decorated rookie full-back made an immediate impact wherever he played. As a freshman at Horn Lake High School, Dean started every moment and was a star. As a real freshman in Georgia in 2019, he also played a big role.

“I didn’t start though,” Dean quickly pointed out.

TRUE. But he was an important part of the rotation and was named the Bulldogs’ joint defensive newcomer of the year.

A rising college quarterback and draft pick made his NFL debut with the Eagles on Sunday in Detroit.

Play a total of three defensive shots.

“As long as I keep improving and know what I can do and know what kind of person I am, I know what kind of player I am, that’s fine,” Dean said. “I love this team and as long as I keep improving, I am happy with it.”

It’s no surprise that Dean approaches his current situation with the kind of maturity we’ve heard so often about his time in Georgia. He doesn’t frown, he’s not in the dumps. He is confident that his time will come.

Eagles coach Nick Siriani often talks about the importance of his players understanding their roles on the team. Dean took a step forward.

It’s not just about understanding your role; He explained that it was a matter of buying.

“You have to,” Dean said. “I feel like if I quit playing a lot or didn’t get a certain amount of plays or things like that, I wouldn’t fully buy into this team. But I bought completely. I bought completely. I think this team can be really special. So keep going. Work. I bought it and enjoy myself every step of the way.”

Although he wasn’t a starter, Dean’s first game in the NFL was still something he deserved. His first defensive shot came at full-back in the goal-line package and he earned two more along the way. He also played a total of 15 shots in special teams.

Dean said that when he first arrived in Georgia, he was always very nervous before games. Since then, he’s really worked to stay more balanced. So he said he wasn’t really nervous in his first NFL game…but he was understandably excited.

“It was awesome,” Dean said. “Just being there and living the dream. Being in the NFL and having this job. I’m here now but it’s time to keep working and keep getting better every day, day by day.”

It was the first step in what he and the Eagles hope will be a long and fruitful journey.

The reason Dean didn’t start or play more is because his linebackers – TJ Edwards and Kyzir White – earned their spots in training camp. Edwards got the right to be the center back for the Eagles and White got the right to be the starting linebacker. After watching every workout this summer, it’s really hard to argue against those decisions from the coaching staff.

Dean does everything he can to get ready when the Eagles need him to play more.

“He just keeps working,” said Jordan Davis, who was a teammate of Dean’s team in Georgia. “Nakubi is a hardworking worker. He knows that none of us come here with expectations to start or be the guy. At the end of the day, we keep working, working on our personal improvement. When our number is called, we will be ready.”

Many people thought Dean was the best player in the 2022 draft, but he wasn’t moved until the third round in 83rd overall. The Eagles considered taking him in the second round with the 51st overall pick, but chose to take the Cam Jurgens center instead, believing there was no way for Dean to have a 32 pick later.

But due to his injury history and slight frame (5-11, 231) Dean was shockingly available after a crazy slip. For all these injury concerns, Dean hasn’t missed any training since coming to Philly.

While still a backup, Dean threw himself into studying movies and asked a lot of questions. He wants to do everything he can to improve without getting those live defensive shots.

Currently, a large part of Dean’s role with the Eagles is as a player on special teams. A total of 15 special teams played in Detroit at kickoff, kick-back, and return shooting. The good news for Dean is that special teams aren’t new to him as it is to many college stars.

“In Georgia, (head coach) Kirby Smart will tell you, the freshmen play all the special teams,” Dean said. “It doesn’t matter. We played special teams. Our best players played on private teams. That’s just what it was.”

This experience gave Dean a footprint and allowed him to get his first real taste of NFL football before eventually earning more playing time on defense.

Based on what we know about Dean, it’s only a matter of time.

“If my number is called, I will be ready,” he said.

Subscribe to the Eagle Eye Podcast

Apple Podcast | google apps | spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube