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Q&A With Nakobe Dean: Georgia Career, Responding To Recent Criticism, What Separates Him From Other Linebackers

Nakobe Dean on the field for Georgia.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 10: Georgia Bulldogs ILB Nakobe Dean (17) celebrates during the Alabama Crimson Tide versus the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship, on January 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Anyone who watched Georgia's football team last season knows just how special Nakobe Dean is. He's explosive, he's earless and he's a true three-down linebacker.

In his final season of college football, Dean had 72 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, five pass breakups, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He legitimately stuffed the stat sheet.

Dean has been a limited during this draft process due to a strained pectoral muscle, but he has shown enough talent on tape to warrant being a first-round pick.

We caught up with Nakobe Dean to discuss his final year at Georgia, the latest knock on his game, what he'll bring to an NFL team and more.

The Spun: How has this draft process been for you?

Nakobe Dean: It’s been great. I’ve learned a lot just from meeting teams and getting to know their schemes. It hasn’t gone exactly the way I wanted it to because I’m banged up. But overall, I’m blessed to be in this position that I’m in.

The Spun: What was it like going through the position drills at your pro day?

ND: I was a little tired out there because I just started running six days before that. I just wanted to see where I’m at in terms of getting my body right. I just really wanted to perform with my teammates at Georgia one last time because you never know when you’ll share the field with them again.

The Spun: Before the national championship game, Georgia fell short to Alabama. Then, you go out there and just play a dominant brand of football in the national title game. What changed heading into that game?

ND: In the first meeting, we were a bit too confident and comfortable. We were still working hard, but we were a bit too comfortable. The second time around, we were still confident but we played with a chip on our shoulder. We were playing for the whole state of Georgia, and I feel like we displayed that.

The Spun: I’ve seen some people bring up your size as a potential concern. How do you respond to that type of criticism?

ND: Like you said, I just chuckle at it. It’s been the main knock on me my whole life. My high school reminded me how people thought I was too small to be an NFL linebacker. This whole process has done nothing but make the chip on my shoulder bigger. I plan on working hard and showing the world who I am.

The Spun: Which NFL linebackers do you like to study?

ND: I like to study a lot of players. I’ll even study players who are in college with me to see if they do something I like. I like the way Darius Leonard attacks the ball, the way Zach Cunningham takes on blocks in the run game, the way Eric Kendricks performs in coverage, and the way Roquan Smith tackles in the open field. I like to watch each of those guys.

The Spun: What’s your greatest strength heading into the NFL Draft?

ND: I’d say my mindset. I’d say my mindset is second to none. I feel like I have a winning attitude and play with a passion and love for the game. All that sets me apart from other linebackers.

The Spun: Which quarterbacks did you enjoy competing against at Georgia?

ND: I’ve played against Joe Burrow, Bryce Young, Mac Jones and all those guys. To be honest, I haven’t played a lot of those star quarterbacks on a yearly basis. I did play against Kyle Trask multiple times. I faced him as a freshman and sophomore, and the Florida-Georgia rivalry produced some battles that I love.

The Spun: Have you had that moment of realization that you’re so close to officially becoming an NFL linebacker?

ND: It has. The work hasn’t changed for me. If anything, it has intensified. You don’t want to get in your head too much and rush the process. You just need to keep talking to the teams and working with the teams to make sure you get your name called on that day.

The Spun: In order for Nakobe Dean to become a star in the NFL, he has to improve what part of his game?

ND: I always feel like I got to elevate my hands and technique. Whether it’s the way I get off blocks or rush the passer, there’s room for improvement. I can also get better at dropping back in coverage and making a play on the ball. Forcing turnovers is such an important skill to have in the NFL.

The Spun: How do you spend your time away from the football field?

ND: In college, I had so much schoolwork that I didn’t have a lot of free time. During this process though, I’ve been looking into different businesses to see what does and doesn’t work. I read a lot of articles about that type of stuff. I’m also trying to get into the whole NFT world.

The Spun: What will be going through your mind when your name gets called during the draft?

ND: I’m going to thank God. He has helped me get to this point where I can achieve a lifelong goal. I’m going to thank my family members because they’ve been a part of this journey. Once that moment is over, I’ll need that playbook. Going to the NFL is a stepping stone for where I want to be. I don’t just want to make the NFL, I want to be great.

Dean finished his college career as a national champion, Butkus Award winner and All-SEC performer. Teams in need of help at linebacker should absolutely have him high on their draft boards.

Georgia fans will get to see where Dean's pro career will begin later this month.

You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.