July 4, 2023   4 MIN READ

Double Dawg Dare

2023 Season Preview Series: Bigger Breakout – Dean or Davis?

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second story in a series by Inside The Birds’ Geoff Mosher and Andrew DiCecco previewing the 2023 season. In the first part, Mosher and DiCecco give their selections for most impactful rookie of 2023. In part 2, they name the biggest second-year impact player).

Jordan Davis

GETTY IMAGES: Jordan Davis barely played last season after being picked 13th overall. He’s expected to emerge this year.

Geoff Mosher: Jordan Davis

You won’t see in his tackles total. Or in his sack numbers. Or in his pressures, hurries or any other metric that indicates production for a defensive linemen.

But there’s no question Jordan Davis will be the second-year Eagle who has the biggest impact on the team, ahead of Reed Blankenship and Nakobe Dean. Cam Jurgens isn’t projected to start, but he could enter the conversation if he outlasts Tyler Steen and Jack Driscoll to seize right guard.

Still, Davis will make the biggest leap from Year 1 because he needs to for the Eagles to be Super Bowl contenders again. The team is relying too much on him to be the foundation of their defense, a supremely gifted athlete who’ll anchor the nose tackle spot and be the foundation for Sean Desai’s defense.

Without a mammoth, 340-pound nose tackle who can occupy multiple blocks and clog running lanes, linebackers like Nakobe Dean and Nic Morrow won’t stand a chance to kept clean and make tackles on ball carriers. Davis understands this and worked hard this offseason to get his conditioning right. He’s a smart kid with a good head on his shoulders. He realizes his importance to the defense and the responsibility that comes with being the 13th overall pick in the draft.

He might have thought he understood last year how difficult his transition to the pro ranks would be, but now he’s truly seen what he needs to do to be on the field and effective in his role. Expect him to take a major step forward in training camp and be ready to start in the middle of the Eagles’ defensive line come September.

The giant man will take a gigantic leap.

Nakobe Dean

GETTY IMAGES: After basically red-shirting last year, second-year LB Nakobe Dean has already earned the green helmet dot.

Andrew DiCecco: Nakobe Dean

Initially, I favored Jordan Davis, as the burly interior mauler poses a daunting mismatch for most opposing centers and guards and will be afforded ample opportunity to contribute to coordinator Sean Desai’s unit.

And while I fully anticipate a breakthrough campaign from the team’s 2022 first-round pick, I went with Davis’ former Georgia teammate, Nakobe Dean, who should more often be in prime position to produce splash plays and generate production.

In a sense, the Eagles are unfairly burdening Dean, 22, with leading a perpetually scrutinized position group despite logging just 34 snaps last season. The team decided to double-down in their unwavering support of their former third-round pick by entrusting Dean in donning the green dot on his helmet, reserved exclusively for one defensive player to maintain contact with the coaching staff while on the field.

Further enhancing his stock, at least in theory, is the wealth of trench talent in front of Dean, which should enable the undersized linebacker to freely roam sideline to sideline in pursuit of the action while at the controls at the nucleus of a fast-flowing Eagles defense.

Dean’s astute football intellect – combined with his inherent instinctiveness and heralded athleticism – should not only yield glowing results in Desai’s defense, but also a potential Pro Bowl bid.

– Geoff Mosher (@geoffpmosher) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and Senior staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com. Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

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