PHILADELPHIA -- Expectations are high for Nakobe Dean in midnight green. Those are the expectations he created for himself, not what the entire city of Philadelphia is banking on.
The Philadelphia Eagles were fortunate to select Dean in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and even more fortunate they were deep enough at linebacker to have Dean learn the ropes from T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White.
Of course, the transition was different for Dean. Who could blame him? He started everywhere he played, becoming the leader of a Georgia defense that is regarded as one of the best in college football history in 2021.
Dean knew what he could do if given a chance. He just had to wait his turn.
"I mean, you want to play. I wanted to play," Dean said. "Did I feel like I was ready? Yeah. But at the same time, we was rolling as a team. The main thing is winning games, over everything is to win games, win championships.
"So sitting back and playing my role, doing whatever I could do to make this team better was my main focus."
The Eagles have already rewarded Dean for his patience, giving him the green dot on defense. Dean will be the one calling the plays in year one as a starting linebacker, taking command of a revamped defense under Sean Desai.
Nicholas Morrow was with Dean on Thursday, taking those first-team snaps at linebacker. He's only been with Dean for two months, yet has seen what the second-year linebacker brings to the table.
"Obviously, we started in the weight room. He's very explosive and strong," Morrow said. "Then we got into the meeting rooms, and he's smart. He knows his stuff. He knows what's going on. He's a good communicator. So he's doing a great job."
Dean had 13 tackles in just 34 defensive snaps last season, recording a tackle on 38.2% of the snaps he played. The Eagles saw in Dean's limited work he can be productive when he gets an opportunity -- a chance to show he can be the franchise's long-term answer at the MIKE.
If Philadelphia does add a linebacker this summer, it won't be because of Dean.
"Any time I had thoughts about something, I let it be known, no matter what kind of position I'm in," Dean said. "I would do it all to be helpful. I'm not trying to run nothing or recreate the wheel or nothing like that.
"Any thoughts I got, I am who I am...If I see something that I feel like we can do better, I let that be known."