As pre-draft visits heat up, Georgia LB Nakobe Dean meets with Detroit Lions

Detroit Free Press

Determined to add more playmakers to their defense in this month’s NFL draft, the Detroit Lions are hosting one of the top linebacker prospects on a pre-draft visit.

Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean told Georgia Bulldogs Extra that the Lions are his only scheduled pre-draft visit. Dean also took part in Atlanta Falcons local day, he told the podcast.

A potential first-round pick, Dean won the Butkus Award last season as the nation’s best linebacker while helping Georgia win the national championship.

The Lions sent a contingent of evaluators to Georgia pro day last month, including linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard and assistant to the president Chris Spielman, one of the best linebackers in franchise history.

Sheppard ran linebacker drills at the pro day.

While some draftniks have knocked him for his size (6 feet, 225 pounds) and perceived athletic shortcomings, Dean is considered one of the smartest, most instinctual players in the draft. He had 72 tackles, including 10.5 for loss, and six sacks last season, and could be a Lions target with the 32nd or 34th pick in the draft, or a trade-up from one of those spots in Round 1.

MORE: Michigan’s Andrew Stueber talks NFL journey, Lions local prospect day

‘A KNEECAP GUY’: EMU TE Thomas Odukoya ready for Lions’ local day

Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, Dean’s Georgia teammate, Travon Walker, LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., Missouri State defensive lineman Eric Johnson and Oklahoma linebacker Brian Asamoah are reportedly among the Lions’ other scheduled top-30 visits. The Lions also hosted Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson among more than a dozen players on local visits.

Thibodeaux, Walker and Hutchinson are among the players the Lions are believed to be considering at No. 2 overall.

Western Illinois quarerback Connor Sampson, Jackson State receiver Daylin Baldwin, Pitt State receiver Jalen Martin and Toledo running back Bryant Koback also took part in Lions local day.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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