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PHILADELPHIA – As the overseer of all things defense, Jonathan Gannon makes it a point to stop into various positional meetings during game week.

And what does he hear when he checks in on the Eagles’ linebackers? A lot of Nakobe Dean.

“I think Nakobe talks more than (linebackers coach) Nick (Rallis), soaking up things,” said Gannon.

The Eagles defensive coordinator said he heard Dean ask Kyzir White a question last week.

“He says, ‘Kyzir, that was your gap, but how did you know to go that to that gap?’’ related Gannon. “Kyzir was like, ‘I just feel it.’ Nakobe was like, ‘Wow. That’s pretty cool.’

“He's learning from those two guys. Kyzir is a vet. T.J. (Edwards) has played a lot of ball for us. Kyzir has played a lot of ball. Nakobe we see every week, he continues to get better as well on the practice field. He's going to get his chance and he'll be ready to go.”

The Eagles didn’t go into the draft thinking they were going to get a chance to draft Dean, but when they saw his still available when it came time to make their selection in the third round, the value was too great to pass up.

Right away, many thought Dean would step in and start.

Except the Eagles had already signed Haason Reddick and White to bolster their linebacker group. They knew Edwards had stepped up mightily after being inserted into the starting lineup midway through last season and expected him to take an even bigger step this year.

Dean wasn’t in the team's offseason plans until he was.

So, the standout linebacker from Georgia bides his time on special teams, and what a great place to learn the game all while watching Edwards and White excel on the field.

“I think what you're seeing right now is they fully understand where they need to be, why calls are called, where they fit into those calls, certain routes or certain runs they can be very aggressive, certain times they can't,” said defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon about Edwards and White.

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“What I'm really pleased about those guys is they're tackling at a high level right now. They're taking good angles, tackling, physical. When we need them to get downhill, they're downhill. When they can't be downhill, they're not.”

Edwards and White aren’t going anywhere this year, barring injury, of course.

That doesn’t mean a role for Dean can’t develop.

He learns while getting used to the NFL on special teams. He played a career-high 20 snaps on those units against the Washington Commanders. It’s a role he never had at the University of Georgia.

“He's such a good football player,” said Eagles special team coordinator Michael Clay on Tuesday afternoon. “There's not much of an adjustment. It's just making sure he gets up to speed. There are such different rules in college to the NFL, but I think Nakobe has done a really good job. 

"He wants to strive and get better and get good at really being a core four guy. And he's patient.”

Clay said that Dean’s personality has shined through from when he first joined the team.

“Nakobe came in, he has a business mindset, business mindset,” said Clay, “but now you see a little bit of his personality coming out within the special teams unit and everything like that. 

"You see him out there as a right-wing on punt, doing a really good job of blocking right there. Punt return, he's very dynamic, he's explosive. He's doing a really good job.”

It may be a while before Gannon can say the same thing about Dean on defense, but that’s OK, because Dean has the luxury of watching and waiting for his day.

He is certainly the future, especially considering the contracts of Edwards and White expire at the end of the season, and it’s probably not likely both will return.

That would open a spot for Dean in 2023.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at or and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.