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Chargers 90-in-90: LB Nick Niemann

Niemann has been a special teams staple since being selected in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Niemann was born and raised in Sycamore, Illinois where he starred for Sycamore High School under head coach Joe Ryan. As a senior, Niemann was named a first-team all-state and all-conference selection on top of winning the honor of Defensive Player of the Year in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference. He also played tight end and was an honorable mention all-conference selection as a junior.

Niemann followed his brother Ben, a current linebacker for the Tennessee Titans, in committing to play for the University of Iowa. Near the end of his career as a Hawkeye, Niemann’s father Jay took a job as the team’s assistant defensive line coach prior to the 2019 season after three seasons calling the defense at Rutgers.

As a redshirt freshman, Niemann played in all 13 games for the Hawks in a reserve role before earning the first five starts of his career in 2017 where he finished with 43 tackles and 2.5 for loss. As a junior, he made 32 total stops and returned a pick for a touchdown. He capped off his Hawkeye career with Third-Team All-Conference honors after posting a career-high 77 tackles in eight starts during the abbreviated 2020 season.

Niemann was eventually selected in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft with the 18th-overall pick. As a rookie, Niemann recorded 22 total tackles and an interception while mainly playing on special teams. He saw very few snaps in 2022 during his sophomore campaign and finished this past season with just a trio of stops. Despite clinching an early playoff spot, Niemann only played eight snaps on defense during the team’s final two contests.

Basic Info

Height: 6’3
Weight: 244
College: Iowa
Experience: 2
Years with team: 2

Contract Status

“Nick Niemann signed a 4 year, $3,694,004 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $214,004 signing bonus, $214,004 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $923,501. In 2023, Niemann will earn a base salary of $940,000, while carrying a cap hit of $993,501 and a dead cap value of $107,002.” -

The Good

Niemann was one of the most athletic linebackers to come out of the 2021 draft class. His 9.51 relative athletic score came pretty close to Kenneth Murray’s 9.81 despite the latter passing on both the short shuttle and three-cone agility drills.

Niemann’s athleticism has made him a fixture on special teams coverages since joining the team and he’s been instrumental in spurring on the improvements overt he past two seasons.

After joining the Chargers at around 230 pounds, Niemann has worked hard to fill out his frame and now weights 244 pounds according to the team’s official roster. If he can continue to develop, the losses of both Drue Tranquill and Kyzir White over the past two season could seem minimal in the coming years.

The Bad

Despite having one of the best athletic profiles amongst his position group, Niemann was one of the least-accomplished players during his collegiate years and has been more of a developmental project as opposed to a player they foresee eventually taking over a starting job. He’ll need to show he can make the leap this year if he wants to finally push for any other role with the Chargers besides special teams contributor.

Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2023?

Niemann will likely make the team as one of their final off-ball linebacker behind Eric Kendricks, Kenneth Murray, and Daiyan Henley. The team never plays more than two on the field at the same time so four may be the magic number, meaning there could be some heated competition between him and former UDFA Amen Ogbongbemiga in training camp this year. If he does make the team, it’s likely he once again plays mainly special teams barring any unforeseen injuries to player ahead of him on the depth chart.