Nakobe Dean

Nakobe Dean


NBC Sports’ Reuben Frank questioned how the Philadelphia Eagles have used linebacker Nakobe Dean in offseason workouts.

As important as offseason workouts are for NFL teams to prepare for the season, it’s the time of year for NFL coaching staffs to learn as much as possible about their 90-man roster. But NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank argued that’s not happening with the Philadelphia Eagles with linebacker Nakobe Dean.

Frank significantly criticized how the Eagles deployed the third-year linebacker at minicamp. Despite being a full participant at mandatory minicamp, Zack Baun received almost all of the first-team defense repetitions ahead of Dean.

“Dean mixed in here and there, but based on the practices we’ve seen so far, Baun – a guy I thought wasn’t even a roster lock a month ago – is clearly ahead of Dean on the depth chart,” wrote Frank on June 9. “And I’m not sure I understand that.

“Don’t the Eagles have to find out of Dean can play? He’s the one who’s 23 years old, he’s the one who the Eagles drafted in the third round just two years ago, he’s the one under contract through 2025, he’s the one everybody was so high on. Then he doesn’t play as a rookie and gets hurt last year and now he’s buried behind a 27-year-old on a one-year contract playing a new position?

“I’m not saying Dean is the answer. I am saying I’d like to see him get at least half the first-team snaps just to learn more about him.”

Dean went on injured reserve after suffering a foot injury in Week 1 last season. He returned in the middle of October, but after four more games, he landed back on IR for the rest of the season with a Lisfranc injury.

In five contests, Dean posted 30 combined tackles, including 2 tackles for loss. He also had 1 quarterback hit and 0.5 sacks.

As a rookie in 2022, he had 13 combined tackles and 1 tackle for loss in 17 games.

Nakobe Dean Still Recovering From Foot Injury?

Although Frank argued he doesn’t really understand Dean’s role at the moment, Frank tried to understand it. He had several suggestions as to why Baun received more opportunities in OTAs than Dean.

One of those suggestions was perhaps Dean is still trying to get his foot 100%. But Frank didn’t buy that or really any other possibility for why Baun is ahead of Dean on the depth chart.

“I just want to see Nakobe get a fair chance,” Frank wrote. “If he’s not good enough, he’s not good enough.”

Frank also argued Dean could be not “picking up” Philadelphia’s new defensive scheme. Of course, offseason workouts should be the time for young players such as Dean to work through those issues.

But they can’t necessarily do that if they don’t practice with the top defense.

Zack Baun Changing Positions

Dean not getting more opportunities in OTAs appeared to be enough for Frank to be upset. But Dean lost first-team snaps this offseason to a player changing positions.

Baun broke out with the New Orleans Saints as an edge rusher last season. He posted 4 tackles for loss, 4 quarterback hits and 2 sacks in 2023. Baun also had an interception while starting a career-high six games.

But Baun played in front of Dean at inside linebacker this spring.

“I have no clue why [Fangio] went that direction, actually,” Baun said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I can do a lot of different things. If that’s where Vic sees me and he’s studied my film, he’s watched me. He’s seen me in the league and in college, he’s seen what I can do. And if he thinks that’s a good spot for me, that’s where I’ll be.”

ESPN’s Tim McManus argued on X (formerly Twitter) Baun’s position change isn’t just an OTA experiment.

“It is real, everyday we go out there it is (Baun) with the ones,” ESPN’s Tim McManus wrote on X on June 5. “There was even a package where it was just the single LB out there with the 1st team, and it was Baun. … I think we have to get used to seeing Baun out there in that spot.”

If that’s the case, it will be difficult for Dean to earn a starting job for Week 1.

Dave Holcomb is a sports reporter covering the NFL and MLB for, with a focus on the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions. Originally from Pittsburgh, Holcomb has covered college and professional sports for outlets including FanSided, Rotowire and Yardbarker. More about Dave Holcomb

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