ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Todd McShay released his latest mock draft Wednesday and has the New England Patriots taking an explosive linebacker coming off of a National Championship.
McShay appears to believe the Patriots will take Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean with the No. 21 pick in the draft. McShay is not the only analyst predicting Dean to the Patriots.
Dean is considered to be a premier linebacker prospect with elite speed and versatility.
The 5-foot-11, 229-pound defensive captain is not the prototypical Patriots middle linebacker, but will have a full NFL offseason to put on size if needed. Dean would benefit from the Patriots pairing him with a larger linebacker to take on blocks. A reunion with Dont’a Hightower could fill the “thumper” role, allowing Dean to fly to the ball carrier.
McShay appears to be very high on the Georgia product.
“Dean has an incredible motor, fighting through blocks and making tackles in space.” McShay wrote. “He has range both against the run and in coverage, and he can even contribute as a pass-rusher. I absolutely love watching his tape. Dean could be Bill Belichick’s leader on defense, and his relentlessness and exceptional instincts will make him an instant-impact player.”
It’s no secret the Patriots could use an influx of speed on defense, and Dean could provide plenty. As McShay mentioned, the 21-year-old was a plus defender against the run and in coverage in the SEC. He also recorded 7.5 career sacks (six in 2021) on a loaded defensive front.