A Very Intriguing Defender

April 29th, 2022

Georgia LB Nakobe Dean.

Joe remembers when former Bucs general manager Rich McKay took over. He said it was about time to start drafting top players from the best football programs in the country.

And at that time, college football was ruled by the Sunshine State. Miami, Florida State and Florida dominated but McKay was aghast how his predecessors virtually ignored players from those schools.

This changed quickly.

Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks were followed by Warrick Dunn and became the centerpieces of one of the best teams of the 1990s. Along came a bit player who later was named Super Bowl MVP, the good Dexter Jackson.

(No, Joe won’t mention Reidel Anthony or Jacquez Green.)

So for those who believe in drafting the best player available, a very intelligent, excellent linebacker will likely go early tonight. And the man is a winner, too. That would be Nakobe Dean of Georgia.

Joe can hear Bucs fans howl: Linebacker? What about Devin White and Lavonte David? True, Joe gets that.

David is entering his final year of his contract. When he spoke this month, David didn’t exactly throw cold water on chatter this may be his final year in Tampa.

David is still a damn good linebacker but he’s getting long in the tooth. When Bucco Bruce Arians first came to town he held David out of practices in the Glazer Shed. Arians said practicing on turf flares up an old David knee injury. And that was three years ago.

Still dealing with a serious foot injury, the old war horse David is getting old. So how about having a crazy good linebacker in a rotation to save David snaps while also keeping White more fresh?

Joe is not advocating this but you can see the breadcrumbs lining up.

Here is what Bob McGinn of “Go Long” dug up from NFL suits, scouts and coaches on Dean. McGinn has Dean ranked as his second-best linebacker in the draft.

2. NAKOBE DEAN, Georgia (5-11, 231, no 40, 1-2): Third-year junior, two-year starter with a degree in mechanical engineering. “Smartest guy on the team, and that defense is very, very complicated,” one scout said.

“Put on the tape and all he does is make plays. Not a great three-down player because he’s probably a 4.65 guy, and to take a guy in the first he’s got to be able to play all three downs. Jonathan Vilma is a good comparison. Reminds me of Dat Nguyen.” Was advised not to run the 40, and he didn’t at the combine or pro day. Another scout estimated his speed at 4.68. “He’s probably a 4.65 to 4.75,” a third scout said. “He didn’t have a good pro day. He stumbled and bumbled and fell down at Georgia. He’s like this spiritual ringleader of the Georgia defense. He’s all heart, all head and all that. But when I watched the tape I said, ‘OK, this is a good player, but if you put him up against the smallest linebackers — Dexter Coakley, Ernie Sims, Jonathan Vilma — he’s not as explosive physically as those guys. He’s productive and knows where the ball’s going and can call the defense, but I didn’t see first round at all. He’s going to be a Mike at 5-11, 230? He isn’t Sam Mills, I don’t think.” Finished with 168 tackles (13 ½ for loss), 7 ½ sacks and 10 passes defensed. Two scouts said he wasn’t as good as ex-Bulldog Roquan Smith. “Three-down player with cover skills and a good blitzer,” a fourth scout said. “Has a plan to beat blocks rather than just running into them. First-round talent but he’s not real big. He did not look explosive or twitchy in drills at pro day.” Wonderlic was 24. “I have no reservations,” a fifth scout said. “Plays the game very fast. Instincts are superior. He’s got the ‘it’ factor. My God, he’s got everything you want. That guy’s a supreme leader.” From Horn Lake, Miss.

It seems like this Dean has everything. Heart, smarts, passion, intensity. Everything but speed.

How and why Dean lasted until the second round Joe isn’t fully sure. But if the Bucs are looking for David’s successor, Dean may be the guy.

55 Responses to “A Very Intriguing Defender”

  1. MadMax Says:

    Im all for it since they passed on Wyatt/

  2. SB~LV Says:

    I’ve been in his corner since reading up on this year’s prospects, kid is a natural instinctive linebacker. I’d be very happy with the pick , let’s not get to clever .

  3. Que5 Says:

    Draft Malik Willis (QB) and Nick Cross (S)

  4. Yucs2Bucs Says:

    @joebucsfan I totally agree and every time I said something about David ( who I think was great and stinks he played during the depressing years ) it’s time and this will definitely be his last year as a Buc. I really hope they don’t trade the pick and obviously they know what their doing, but this guy is a beast and would love to see him in Pewter !! I’m a Bama guy and had to watch the Dawgs twice and not easy to say, but this dude is NFL ready !! Also maybe Brian Robinson also in the 3rd ? Go Bucs

  5. Tim Says:

    With a guy like Dean I’m not as concerned about the speed because he’s more likely to diagnose the play and be in the right position to make the play and take the correct angles, rather than be out of position and have to rely on his speed to bail himself out. I’d be fine with him, Booth or Ebekeite (sp?).

  6. Buddha Says:

    Love Dean. Can’t coach heart.

  7. Daniel Says:

    If he has everything but speed he isn’t going to be drafted by the Bucs at LB

  8. Ash Says:

    Yes so much yes would love this pick for lovante successor

  9. Dom Says:

    So we just going to forget LVD ran a 4.65 too? Sounds plenty fast to me

  10. BUCman Says:

    Dean definitely is the best player left on the board. And it is a position of need. Yes, we have White & David but David is 32, in the last year of his contract, and is still not recovered from his injury. In addition we have not brought back Minter so we have zero depth behind an old and injured David. Dean would give us immediate depth and the future replacement for David.

  11. Guzzie Says:

    Leo Chanel, Dean is a 4.7 guy, Chanel has Luke Keuchly written all over him

  12. acey Says:

    It’s probably the right pick to make here. Finding a successor for David shouldn’t really be a priority in this draft since we’re in win now, but since it’s one of the studs of that insane Georgia defense you’d have to be crazy to not pick him up. Plus, remember all that rumor talk from last year that Devin White is less effective without LVD because he can’t make play adjustments? Pick up Dean, let him sit/rotate with Lavonte, and we can just let Devin keep doing what he does until the end of time no sweat.

  13. Bowles4President Says:

    Joe, I just want to say thanks for all the post draft content. I doubt it’s easy to have several interesting articles knocked out so quickly even after there was no pick made. There were not many non-repetitive Bucs articles out there after the draft, except for Joebucsfan.

  14. SKBucsFan Says:

    I would take him. Either thatbor Hall from Houston. In a 3-4 scheme LB’s are key. Can always find a beast for the line later on.

  15. Yucs2Bucs Says:

    Plus Devin didn’t play great last year and LVD doesn’t run a 4.65 anymore like someone said? I know we get attached to players, but don’t want to see the big picture and he’s definitely ring of honor material, but plug Dean in the middle, hope White returns, and hopefully get a good season from 54.. Go Bucs

  16. SlyPirate Says:


    Dean ran an official 4.52. LVD ran a 4.56.

  17. mark2001 Says:

    Where is Rockstar Dom when we need him. Seems to me, last time we were in the position with the first pick of the second round, we picked Bowers. Come on Dom… can’t lightning strike twice?

  18. Bucsfanman Says:

    I put almost no stock in 40 times. Game speed is what matters and tape doesn’t lie.
    He’s a good player and considering the drop-off from LVD when he was injured, it’s not the worst idea I’ve heard.
    The worst idea I heard was drafting Malik Willis. Only a die-hard Liberty fan would be pining for Willis. Maybe 5th round or later but definitely not a 2nd or 3rd.

  19. David Says:

    He is one of the guys I would take if they don’t trade down a little more.

    LB Dean UGA
    CB Booth Clemson
    RB Hall ISU
    CB Gordon Washington
    DT Jones UConn

    There are several DEs & WRs that should be there at the end of the round too.

  20. PSL Bob Says:

    Except for the speed! That’s what’s beautiful about both Dean and White. They can close in a hurry. At least they could before Dean was injured.

  21. Biff Barker Says:

    We need an “it” guy a LB. Not sure if White can be that guy anymore.

    Bucs need a first class ILB crew. I’m in.

  22. SB~LV Says:

    Speed means NOTHING evaluating a player if they are half a step out of position. This kid has ALWAYS been in position.
    Ronde Barber is a perfect example, he was never a fast CB but was always at the spot.

  23. Brandon Says:

    They’ll pass. My money is on Logan Hall. That’s where the tea leaves are taking us. They didn’t like Wyatt. If you don’t trust Licht by now, time to jump ship. When it comes to DL/LB/DBs/OL/WR… there aren’t many better at finding them than Licht. If he says NO to Wyatt… then everyone should. If Hall is the guy, be happy, he’ll be good for us.

  24. German Buc Says:

    @SB-LV: …especially in Philly <3

  25. Rayjay1122 Says:

    Another Dean on the Defense. It would make sense. Dean or Booth would not shock me. Neither would another trade back and then drafting the DT from UCON who would possibly be available.

  26. Jordan Says:

    Hard to argue with picking Dean, but Booth Jr. was one of the 4 guys I thought were realistic and a fit at number 27, so I’d prefer to see us stay at 33 and take Booth Jr.

    Breece Hall would also be a good pick cause of his soft hands and top-end speed.

    With that extra pick we acquired, we now have the extra draft capital to more easily move up in the 2nd or 3rd or 4th round which will likely be critical to filling out this roster.

    Breece Hall, Nakobe Dean, Trey McBride, Logan Hall…. Get 2 of those guys and I’d consider this a pretty good draft…. Get 3 of them and I’ll be simply amazed. Wouldn’t be totally shocked to see us move up and get 3 2nd round picks.

  27. SB~LV Says:

    I would like to come away with TE Isaiah Likely some how some way today

  28. Alstott up the gut Says:

    I love the luxury of Dean, or Booth or Mafe or addressing a more immediate need with Hall, Walker, Jones or the other Hall! Maybe two of them?!?! Go Bucs!!

  29. Commander Says:

    Some scouts have Nakobe as the top linebacker in this draft even though he’s a touch under sized. I’m all for the best player available and I thought that was linebacker Devin Lloyd at #27 but we traded down. The way it looks I think we’re going to draft a safety, cornerback or defensive tackle in that order.

  30. Bucamania Says:

    Dean will be a fantastic NFL LBer. I’m all for it. With all those big names on the GA defense, he was the leader.

  31. Cobraboy Says:

    I completely disagree.

    What made Lavonte David great was his speed far more than instincts. Now he’s older and maybe lost a step or two. Lavonte David is a shell of his former self.

    Dean is a credible LB, but good lord! Look at who he had in from of him and behind him! He will not have that luxury in the NFL.

    He wouldn’t run the 40 for scouts? And was healthy? Tells you what you need to know right there. If I ran a 4.7+ as a LB, I wouldn’t run the 40, either.

    The Bucs had that kind of LB in the Dark Years when the D got constantly schooled.

    Hard pass on Dean in the 2nd.

  32. Bucsfanman Says:

    Good point Cobra. That Georgia D may have covered up some shortcomings in his game.

    Never the less, we need to think about bolstering our depth behind LVD, even a future starter at the position.

  33. tampabuscsbro Says:

    There is a good chance Wyatt would be suspended at any moment with his history of domestic violence issues and other domestic violence investigations against him at UGA.

    He isn’t good enough to justify that risk.

  34. geno711 Says:

    I do not mind getting a linebacker at some point but next pick is too early with more valuable positions needing to be drafted.

    Take one of these:
    Andrew Booth Jr., CB
    Travis Jones, DT
    Bernhard Raimann, OG
    Kyler Gordon, CB
    Logan Hall, DL
    Cam Jurgens, OG
    Roger McCreary CB

    Then if you want a linebacker one of these guys should be available at the end of the round:
    Leo Chenal, LB
    Troy Andersen, LB
    Channing Tindall, LB
    Christian Harris, LB
    Chad Muma, LB

  35. Esteban85 Says:

    I’m down with this pick. Dude was the leader of arguably the best defense in college football history. Watched his highlights and the announcers constantly called him the best linebacker in college football. A little different size and speed than LVD but he obviously has the smarts to run our defense. It is a need and DWhite will never replace LVD.

  36. Ben Harvey Says:

    What about Ebiketie? Guy looks beast and has the pass rush skills to help the defense. JPPs impact on the field was missed last season.

  37. Bucamania Says:

    I’m down with Arnold AK Ebiketie as well.

  38. matthew veal Says:

    Jason has proven to be pretty good with A roster so I don’t want to mess that up. Looks like he has prioritized special teams.

    This kid has the problem Brady had at Michigan. The other players looked good to the NFL, no one got how it was Brady making them look good. This kid has the same quality I believe.

  39. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    writing is on the wall. The first pick of the second round, Bucs is going to grab UConn DT Travis Jones, UConn.

  40. unbelievable Says:

    His problems are speed and size.

    Very cerebral player though.

  41. Jor God tha Binks Says:

    If there’s one thing I remember about Joe and LB’ers, it’s that Joe was keen to Lavonte David before the masses the year we drafted him. I like what Joe sees in potential Bucs linebackers

  42. Rod Munch Says:

    If you can’t run, you can’t replace David. So that’s a hard pass for me.

  43. Jor God tha Binks Says:

    So funny you mentioned Green and Anthony too…I always reference them jokingly w/ my Buc friends in the know 😂👌 (sometimes Sabby “the Goat” too for a good laugh)

  44. Bigz Says:

    Take Dean. Similar to David. 5 star recruit. Does a lot of stuff. 3 down LB. Seems like a better Sam Mills. Value at this pick.

  45. Cobraboy Says:

    It’s easy to be a great leader on a great, talented team.

    It’s a far tougher task to be a leader that elevates play on a less talented team.

    So, in real life, it’s difficult to say what kind of “leader” Dean may be.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am only down on Dean for the first three rounds. Later rounds? Fine. And I am only down on him for speed.

    Remember: you can’t coach speed. Ask David. Ask Mr. Derick Brooks. When both became 4.7 players…i.e., lost their speed…they both became more pedestrian.

  46. Red86 Says:

    Phidarian Mathis
    Travis Jones
    Arnold Ebiketie

    Maybe David Ojabo with a trade down

  47. Cobraboy Says:

    Edit: Also down on Dean for size. A small guy needs to have lightning speed.

    ‘Tweeners rarely work out.

  48. Rod Munch Says:

    Went back and found a scouting report for Lavonte David from 2010…

    Here’s what they said his strengths were:

    Blazing speed
    Excellent instincts
    Extremely reliable tackler
    Uses good tackling technique to wrap up ball-carrier
    Very athletic
    Read-and-react skills
    Fabulous run defender
    Can flip his hips to run with receivers
    Phenomenal in man coverage on tight ends, running backs
    Hard hitter
    Physical player
    Regularly generates splash plays
    Produces good down-and-distance situations
    Quality blitzer
    Three-down linebacker
    Experienced 2-year starter
    Could star on special teams

    Does that sound like this guy? There’s more to David than being smart, he was ‘blazing fast’ and could ‘run with receivers’. If you’re talking about a guy, with the idea that he’d replace David in the long run, he’d need to be fast. This guy is not fast, and you can’t teach speed.

    Derrick Brooks = Fast, great coverage LB
    Lavonte David = Fast, great coverage LB

  49. Rod Munch Says:

    With that said, I’m just going by what people are saying and scouting reports, I don’t know jack about this guy.

  50. Bucamania Says:

    Dean tore his pec recently according to Schefter

  51. sasquatch Says:

    He’s not big, not fast, and has medical red flags. He’s not a target, or shouldn’t be anyway, not in round 2.

  52. Darin Says:

    Best player on the best team. I wouldn’t be upset with him. Great player. He looks much faster due to his intelligence and anticipation. Bowles will get em all on the field


    Good torch passing from Lavonte David. (And both guys have 2 first names lol. 😆

  54. BigMacAttack Says:

    Unfortunately you can’t coach speed. And in league full of tall speed demons, it’s a hard and difficult pass for me. Trade down a few more spots or get TB12 the running back Breece.

  55. sasquatch Says:

    We pay Lenny 7 million a year and you wanna use our first pick on another RB? Are the Bucs going to a ground based offense then? Because that would be a ludicrous pick otherwise.