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Three Hawkeyes selected on final day of NFL Draft

CLEVELAND — Three former University of Iowa football players were selected on the third and final day of the NFL Draft, and two of them were back-to-back picks.

Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette and defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon were announced consecutively as fifth-round draft picks on Saturday, as Smith-Marsette was chosen 157th overall by the Minnesota Vikings and Nixon at 158 to the Carolina Panthers.

Smith-Marsette is the fourth wide receiver selected in the Kirk Ferentz era and first since Marvin McNutt, Jr. in 2012.

Smith-Marsette (6-foot-1, 179 pounds) had 20 career starts and excelled on special teams as well as at wide receiver. Smith-Marsette earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors from league coaches and media in 2020, for both offense and special teams.

Smith-Marsette had 25 receptions for 345 yards and four touchdowns in eight games in 2020, leading the team in receiving yards and touchdown receptions. He also averaged 22 yards on eight kickoff returns.

Smith-Marsette averaged 28.7 yards on 53 career kickoff returns, a figure that ranks second all-time in the Big Ten Conference. He was the offensive MVP of the 2019 Holiday Bowl as Iowa defeated Southern California, 49-24. In 2018 he was named the Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year in the Big Ten and was named first-team All-Big Ten return specialist.

Smith-Marsette joins former Hawkeye quarterback Nate Stanley, who was picked in the seventh round of last year’s draft by the Vikings.

Nixon earned consensus All-America honors after leading the Big Ten Conference in tackles for loss (13) and total tackles among defensive lineman (45). Iowa’s defensive Roy J. Carver Most Valuable Player was also named the Nagurski-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and the Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Nixon was one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy and one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Award.

Linebacker Nick Niemann was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers in the sixth round, going with the 185th overall pick.

Niemann (6-foot-4, 233 pounds) started all eight games in 2020. He led Iowa with 77 tackles, including 37 solo stops and 40 assists. Niemann earned third-team All-Big Ten honors from league coaches.

Niemann will join former Iowa offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga in Los Angeles. Niemann’s older brother, Ben, is in his fourth year with the Kansas City Chiefs. He joined the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2018.

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