Three years ago, the Iowa Hawkeyes saw linebacker Josey Jewell selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. That year, they had another linebacker picked up as an undrafted free agent. That player was Ben Niemann. In the 2021 NFL Draft, Nick Niemann could emulate his older brother and be the first Iowa linebacker to be drafted since that 2018 class.
Nick Niemann NFL Draft Player Profile
- Position: Linebacker
- School: Iowa
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 235 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Nick Niemann Scouting Report
Positives: Tough, hard-working linebacker with an underrated game. Instinctive, stays with assignments, and breaks down well. Stout at the point, defeats blocks getting to the ball handler, and stacks well against the run. Solid open-field tackler who keeps the action in front of him and wraps up ball handlers. Flows well laterally to the play, shows patience, and possesses a burst of speed. Sells out on the blitz.
Negatives: Doesn’t get depth on pass drops and shows marginal ability in man coverage situations. Possesses average quickness and pursuit speed.
Analysis: Niemann is a tough run-defending linebacker with enough ability to back up on the inside of a 3-4 alignment.
Nick Niemann Player Profile
Niemann has football in his blood. Not only has his older brother gone on to win a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs, but their father is an assistant coach at Rutgers. Unsurprisingly, Niemann impressed on the football field as a junior at Sycamore High School. Playing both ways as a linebacker and tight end, he had 81 tackles and 3 tackles for loss while snagging 9 receptions for 276 yards and 3 touchdowns.
With his older brother already at Iowa, the younger linebacker attended a Hawkeyes junior day early in 2015. Having impressed enough to earn an offer, they remained a favorite in the process despite offers from Iowa State, Illinois, Northwestern, and Wisconsin. Although Wisconsin threatened to turn his head, Niemann committed to the Hawkeyes prior to his senior season.
Iowa fans got a taste of the skills of their new backer during a standout senior season for Sycamore. He was named the Defensive Player of the Year in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference after a season where he amassed 94 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks. He also displayed leadership as a team captain.
Niemann’s college football career at Iowa
Niemann continued to build that role as a leader during his freshman season. Although he didn’t see the field as a linebacker for Iowa — redshirting in 2016 — he earned the team leader award. Even in his second season with the program, he was more impactful as a special-teams contributor than as a linebacker. However, he did make his first defensive contribution against Minnesota before adding another tackle against Ohio State.
With his brother departed for the 2018 NFL Draft, Niemann saw an elevated role in the Iowa defense. He played in 11 games, making five starts and registering 43 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1 quarterback pressure. He registered his first tackle for loss against Northern Illinois and tallied his first sack in the “El Assico” rivalry game with Iowa State.
Having missed time due to injury in his sophomore season, the Iowa linebacker once again saw an uptick in game time in 2019. In eight starts, he registered 32 tackles and another 2.5 tackles for loss. However, he saved his best for last. In the season-ending Holiday Bowl against USC, Niemann snagged his first interception, returning the pick for a touchdown, while also registering a sack.
The performance led nicely into his senior season, where he earned third-team All-Big Ten honors. Leading the team with 77 tackles in just 8 games, he equaled his single-game career-high tackle total against Northwestern. He also showcased versatility lining up at weak-side and middle linebacker. Following the season, Niemann declared for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Nick Niemann’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Niemann has a genuine chance to emulate his brother and be selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. Pro Football Network’s Chief NFL Draft Analyst Tony Pauline has a sixth-round grade on the Iowa linebacker. Additionally, Pauline has him ranked as his 223rd overall prospect in this class.
His experience on special teams will add value to his skill set as a linebacker. He has the speed and play strength to carve out a role as a situational outside linebacker in a 4-3 defensive system. However, concerns over his coverage ability could see him more suited to playing as a run stopper from the inside of a 3-4 alignment.
As a result, some potential landing spots include the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, and New York Giants.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.