Linebacker Nick Vigil was one of the four main free agent signings by the Chargers this offseason, joining defensive tackle Linval Joseph, offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, and cornerback Chris Harris. While probably the least exciting of the three, Vigil offers a combination of youth and starting experience that any team would welcome on their roster.
Vigil is a native of Plain City, Utah and played his prep ball at Fremont High School. As a senior, Vigil rushed for 1,309 yards and 11 touchdowns to go along with 300 receiving yards. On defense, he collected 61 tackles and two interceptions with one getting taken back for a touchdown. He helped lead his team to the Class 5A Utah State Championship while being named to the First-Team All-State team in both his senior and junior seasons.
After deciding to stay in his hometown and play for Utah State, Vigil redshirted his freshman season before earning a role as the team’s key depth piece at linebacker. He played in all 14 games with four starts, finishing his first year of play with 57 tackles, 8.5 tackles-for-loss, 5.5 sacks, a pass breakup, and one interception.
He then went on to start the final 26 games of his career at USU, being named to the All-Mountain West First Team both years. As a junior, Vigil had 123 tackles with 16.5 of them going for a loss, seven sacks, two pass breakups, and another interception. As a senior, he set a career-high in stops with 144. He also added 13.5 tackles-for-loss, three sacks, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. His 38.5 total tackles-for-loss were good for third in team history.
Also, in that 2015 season, Vigil was the only defensive player in the country to record 9+ tackles in every game.
Vigil decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and enter his name into the 2016 NFL Draft. He wound-up being selected 87th-overall in the third round by the Cincinnati Bengals as the 11th linebacker off the board.
While he didn’t see any starts as a rookie, Vigil played a role in every game, finishing with 21 tackles and a single pass breakup. In his second year, he recorded his first 11 starts (played in only 11) and totaled 79 tackles, four tackles-for-loss, a sack, an interception, and five pass breakups.
In his third year, Vigil got the starting nod in 10 of the 11 games he played in during the 2018 season. He once again upped his tackle total to 84 and his tackles-for-loss to five while adding three pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
The 2019 season was Vigil’s best by a mile. He started all 16 games for the first time in his career and set a high mark in tackles with 111. He added three for a loss, a sack, one interception, five pass breakups, a forced fumble, and two recovered fumbles.
College: Utah State
Years with team: 0
“Nick Vigil signed a 1 year, $2,400,000 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $500,000 signing bonus, $2,400,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $2,400,000. In 2020, Vigil will earn a base salary of $1,900,000, a signing bonus of $500,000 and an incentive bonus of $600,000, while carrying a cap hit of $3,000,000 and a dead cap value of $2,400,000.” – Spotrac.com
It didn’t take long for Vigil to earn starting snaps with the Bengals. The guy was incredibly productive while in college and sometimes it’s impossible to keep those types of players off the field. In 2019, Vigil caught his stride about halfway through the season once middle linebacker Preston Brown was released. He was then the guy getting all the checks and calls in order on defense while simultaneously playing faster and showing better instincts.
He fits best as a WILL linebacker who can utilize his athleticism and finesse to run and chase on the backside of plays.
While he’s been fairly good as a coverage linebacker, Vigil has struggled to be a force in stopping the run while in the NFL. He certainly has the size for an NFL backer, but he doesn’t consistently shed blocks well enough to be a modern-day three-down player at the position
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2020?
Vigil is a sure-fire lock to make the Chargers’ final roster as a key piece to the linebacker rotation on top of helping fill a chunk of the special teams snaps that were lost in free agency. He may have a chance to start the first week or two if rookie Kenneth Murray doesn’t get up to speed fast enough otherwise I don’t expect Vigil to start many games in 2020.