New England Patriots: 5 players the team should take with No. 21 overall pick

Devin Lloyd #0 of the Utah Utes (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Devin Lloyd #0 of the Utah Utes (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Nakobe Dean #17 of the the Georgia Bulldogs (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots draft target No. 5: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Nakobe Dean has seen his draft stock take a bit of a hit recently, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good player. Dean was the leader of college football’s best defense last season with the Georgia Bulldogs, and his tape shows him as arguably the best linebacker prospect in this draft class.

After emerging as a tackling machine in his sophomore season, Dean took the next step forward and put together an absolutely dynamic junior season. He only logged one more tackle (72) than he did during his sophomire campaign, but he racked up 10.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks. Both are massive improvements from where he was at the season before.

Overall, Dean is easily the most athletically gifted linebacker in this class. He’s a bit undersized for the position, but he doesn’t let that deter him. He makes fantastic reads on plays at the line of scrimmage, whether it comes against the run or the pass, and he’s quick enough to hold his own in coverage despite his lack of size.

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Unsurprisingly, the biggest knock on Dean is his size. He’s only 6-0, 225 lbs, which is undersized for your typical linebacker. Of course, teams have begun to value speed over size at linebacker in recent years, but Dean has gotten overpowered at times by linemen or tight ends who are bigger than him. Is that going to become an issue against NFL level competition?

The only reason Dean is so low on this list is because taking him with the 21st pick might be a stretch at this point. The team could conceivably move back in the first round, or maybe even the beginning of the second round, and still be able to get Dean. However, if the Patriots decide to stay put at No. 21, and the rest of the names ahead of him on this list are gone, Dean is worth taking a bit of a risk on, as he would give the linebacker room precisely what they are looking for.