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Chargers 90-in-90: FB Gabe Nabers

Will Nabers’ role expand in the new offense or will the fullback position become irrelevant once more?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The 6’3, 242-pound Nabers arrived as a fullback in Tallahassee back in 2016 under then-head coach Jimbo Fisher. Once Fisher left FSU to take the same position at Texas A&M, the school hired former Oregon and USF coach Willie Taggart who then eliminated the fullback position altogether in their new spread-style offense. Nabers naturally made the transition to tight end for the final two years of his career after primarily being used as a blocker in 2016 and ‘17.

He only had a single catch to his name prior to 2018, but that lone catch went for the first touchdown of his career with the Seminoles. As a junior in 2018, Nabers was utilized just a tiny bit more in the passing game and finished the season with three catches for 46 yards. He finally “broke out” as a receiving threat by catching 15 passes this past season for 221 yards and another two touchdowns.

Nabers’ two receiving scores in 2019 were a couple short receptions in the flat that came off play-action. In fact, the majority of his 15 catches utilized a play fake in order for Nabers to take advantage of the hesitation it caused due to the threat of running back Cam Akers, who is now with the Rams.

Nabers eventually signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent following the 2020 draft. As a rookie, he caught five passes on seven targets with two short touchdowns. He was also utilized on a few third/fourth-and-short runs throughout the year.

In one of the smartest moves an undrafted player can make, Nabers became fast friends with Justin Herbert and the two currently live together with fellow UDFA offensive guard, Nate Gilliam.

Basic Info

Height: 6’3
Weight: 235
College: Florida State
Experience: 1
Years with team: 1

Contract Status

“Gabe Nabers signed a 2 year, $1,390,000 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including an average annual salary of $695,000. In 2021, Nabers will earn a base salary of $780,000, while carrying a cap hit of $780,000.” - Spotrac.com

The Good

The fact that Nabers made the team as an undrafted free agent at a position that some may consider “dead” in the NFL is a testament to his work ethic and versatility. Nabers can line up as a traditional fullback in the backfield to lead block or set up on the wing/line of scrimmage to block as an additional tight end.

Just like he did at FSU, Nabers was able to take advantage of play-action to score both of his touchdowns. The most-notable being a nifty throwback screen that Justin Herbert was able to get off while being walloped by a defender.

The Bad

After dropping a sure-fire first-down reception earlier in the season, Nabers was able to bounce back through the second half of the year. Nabers is more of a move-tight end playing fullback, so there was a few growing pains during his rookie campaign, but those should be ironed out by the start of year two.

Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2021?

There are going to be aspects of the 49ers offense utilized in the Bolts’ new scheme and as we all know, the Niners love utilizing fullback Kyle Juszczyk. This leads me to believe there’s a small chance the team just gets rid of the position altogether. Since the Chargers didn’t bring in any other fullbacks, either, I feel confident in Nabers’ chances of landing on the active roster later this summer.