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Nick DeLuca could become Bengals’ next special teams ace

Nick Deluca is stumbling into the NFL after a couple of injury plagued seasons. Could he work his way onto a roster though?

North Dakota State v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Nick DeLuca had a bit of bad luck during his college career.

After he was wildly successful in 2015 as the middle linebacker for North Dakota State, he couldn’t shake the injury bug the following two seasons. In 2015, he had 135 tackles (56 solo), 10 tackles for a loss, three sacks, two interceptions and six pass breakups. He was all over the field. He even gained national recognition when he was nominated for the 2016 Butkus Award.

However, he suffered a separated shoulder before the season unfortunately, though. He showed his love for the game by trying to play through it for three games until it got to the point where he needed surgery.

Then in 2017, DeLuca missed games against Eastern Washington and Robert Morris due to a knee injury, though he still finished second on the team in total tackles (74), tackles for loss (10.5) and sacks (6.5).

Now, DeLuca is hoping he did enough in 2015 to earn a shot at an NFL roster.


Height: 6’3”

Weight: 248 pounds

Class: Senior

Position: Linebacker

College: North Dakota State

Projected Round: Seventh or undrafted

NFL Comparison: A poor man’s Nick Vigil



DeLuca really just doesn’t seem to have the tools to be a linebacker that gets thrown into the defensive lineup on a consistent basis. At best, he is a backup linebacker at the NFL level. He showed he really doesn’t have the speed at the NFL Scouting Combine by failing to finish inside the top 15 of any of the drills aside from 20-yard shuttle.

It seemed like DeLuca just dominated lesser talent at in the FCS. It is hard to deny his love for the game, and his willingness to do whatever the coaches ask. That could lead to his only route to the NFL. He could end up being a quality special teamer. As a freshman, he led the team with 15 special team tackles. Maybe he could translate that to the NFL level.

Deluca is also a very intelligent player. He was able to lineup the defense, and get them into the perfect position more times then not. He also understood his responsibilities, but the trouble came when he had to chase down athletic ball carriers. Especially when they bounced it to the perimeter. That will be a more frequent problem at the NFL level.

How he could fit with the Bengals

Deluca would have a hard time cracking the roster for the Bengals. They have a number of young linebackers with game experience to build off. He would have to make quite the impression on special teams. The coaching staff would really be intrigued by the mentality and understand he brings to the position.

That could give him enough time to develop, build up his strength in an NFL weight program, and then possibly become what guys like Vincent Ray has been for the Bengals. It’s not the easiest path to take, but it could be DeLuca’s best bet for making it in the NFL.