Iowa football: Special teams key to Ben Niemann staying on Chiefs roster


Former Iowa football player Ben Niemann made the Chiefs roster as an undrafted free agent last year. The key to staying will be special teams.

Former Iowa football player Ben Niemann had a solid first year in Kansas City after signing with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent. He snagged the backup strongside linebacker role, and he was a key cog on the special teams unit.

This offseason, however, in typical NFL fashion the Chiefs added competition to the linebacker group. Most NFL teams do this just to have some extra camp bodies, but the Chiefs are likely trying to find a few more guys to improve a defense that was ranked 31st in the league last year in yards allowed per game.

Kansas City signed linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu to a 1 year/$895K deal this offseason after his contract expired with the New York Jets. Attaochu is a former second-round pick who has been with three different teams in the last year which should say something about what teams think about him.

However, it’s competition and where Ben Niemann may be able to stand out is in the special teams’ department.

Last season as a rookie from the Iowa football program, Niemann made one start and collected ten tackles. His special teams’ performance was outstanding though. It was so good Pro Football Focus graded him as the highest rated special teams player in the league.

He may not be as physically gifted as Attaochu or have as much experience, but Niemann is the son of a longtime coach (who is now a coach with the Hawkeyes), and he was developed by some of the best coaches in the nation with the Iowa football program. Ben Niemann is ready to grind and has the necessary toolset to make this happen.

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Currently, he is listed third on Kansas City’s depth chart, but if he can keep the position-specific battle close during the preseason, his special teams play should stand out enough to keep a roster spot in 2019.