The Chargers recently signed former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Nick Vigil to a one year deal, another solid value signing by Tom Telesco.
When Nick Vigil was taken in the third round by the Bengals in 2016 it was considered a bit of a reach by his former team. Many scouts viewed him as a day-three player. He dominated the Mountain West during his career at Utah State where he racked up over 250 tackles and 30 tackles for loss in two seasons as a starter there.
However, coming out of college he was considered as a future special teams role player due to his lack of size and natural athleticism.
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And that’s what he was for the Bengals for the first year and a half of his career. He played very sparingly as a rookie and then a little bit more in year two. He finally got his chance to start about halfway through the second season.
After that, he was a very solid player for them. Overall, in the last three seasons, Vigil racked up 274 tackles, including 12 for loss as the starting linebacker for the Bengals.
Vigil has made up for his lack of elite athleticism with a very high football IQ. He understands angles and timing better than most players at his position. Due to that IQ, he has earned a strong reputation for his play in passing situations.
While he isn’t the most sure-handed tackler out there, it’s hard to ignore his 111 combined tackles from last season. He did miss 19 tackles, per Pro Football Focus, so there is room to grow for the fourth-year pro. During his tenure in Cincinnati, Vigil played all three linebacker spots so there is some positional versatility with him too.
— USU Football (@USUFootball) December 8, 2019
The Bengals ask their linebackers to do very similar things that the Chargers ask of theirs. So while the scheme isn’t the exact same, his role shouldn’t change that much. The Bengals did switch schemes last year and he showed that he was able to pick it up rather quickly, so that shouldn’t be that much of a concern for him as he makes the transition to Los Angeles.
The Chargers are getting just what the doctor ordered: depth behind Denzel Perryman, Drue Tranquill and Kyzir White. Once the release of Thomas Davis became official it was apparent the Chargers were going to lean upon that trio as their starting linebackers.
Perryman has a long injury history and struggles in passing situations, so getting another guy that come in and provide solid depth behind him was absolutely necessary.
Vigil will have his chance at starting reps, but it should be expected that he starts out his new life in Los Angeles the same as he did in Cincinnati: as a special teams ace who comes in on passing down situations in place of Denzel Perryman.
White has consistently shown the ability to make splash plays at key moments, despite his limited reps, and deserves to get his own chance to be a starter. Either way, one of those two will need to step up in a big way on special teams as the Chargers have lost Adrian Phillips and Derek Watt from that unit.
Signing Vigil kills two birds with one stone because he’s both excellent on special teams and as a passing downs linebacker, just what the Chargers needed to find.
By no means is this a big splash signing but it’s this kind of value signing that can make or break a team. Vigil will bring a lot of experience, intelligence, toughness and versatility to this locker room.