Nakobe Dean is an off-ball linebacker who possesses good to excellent play speed. He is an instinctual player who has a high-level awareness allowing him to read and react quickly. He is a capable downhill linebacker, but he is a better athlete when he is working laterally to track down runners working to the edge. As a pass rusher, Dean effectively shoots a gap using his speed to close in on the QB.
He is slightly undersized, so teams at the NFL level might try to work more downhill against a player of his body type. He is a solid pass coverage LB who gets good depth and effectively uses his speed to close pass-catchers entering his zone. In addition, he is a capable man-to-man coverage linebacker vs. RB's and TE's in space.
Dean is versatile enough to play in either a stacked front or a 4-3 style defense. He should add functional weight at the next level to help him play a more stout role against the run and help him in coverage when matched up against TE's working to box him out.
What separates him from being graded as a player with high upside instead of an instant impact player is his ability to shed and navigate heavy run game traffic. An improvement as a run-game defender will increase his upside at the NFL level.
PLAYSTYLE & SCHEME FIT