2021 Raiders Draft Prospect
Name: Nick Bolton
Weight: 232 pounds
While the average number may not appear as a compliment, understand where Bolton was at the start. During his time in Columbia, he began to take the approach of trusting his eyes and brain in order to make the play. The prospect, over time, began to implement more of the mental approach to the game.
While diagnosing the play, Bolton races towards the ball. Without reticence or a scintilla of hesitation, he barrels toward the play. Whether he’s shooting through the hole to meet the ball of getting the corner to hit, Bolton displays the explosion to meet the opponent with force.
In this trait, the prospect generates enough quicks to man a starting linebacker spot. However, there is a need to exercise a bit more dexterity in shedding blocks. When defeating a blocking, attempting to blow up a guard that outweighs you upwards of 75-100 pounds isn’t always the most sound strategy. As such, Bolton should use his speed and shoulder movements to induce blockers to whiff on the attempt.
By far, the best attribute of this player. The former Missouri ‘backer brings his full weight in a tackle. Here’s how. From helmet to cleats, Bolton coils himself. His helmet and eyes face the target, instead of looking to the turk. Next, he drops his hips, providing an appreciable knee bend. Despite standing only six feet tall, Bolton’s technique and explosion widen his tackle radius. Lastly, he strikes through the target with either a wrap or shot that is too quickly to wrap.
Underneath and within either yards of the line of scrimmage is where the prospect will flourish. Screens, flats, dump passes while in man versus a runner will not break Bolton. Neither will the occasional deeper drop into a zone. Although, the linebacker plays better when actively engaged in single coverage.
As mentioned, Bolton’s size limitation would normally hinder him in stopping the run. Yet, his brand of physicality and explosions lends itself to sniffing out the run and stopping in cold. Here, the prospect trusts his gut to predict running and beats blockers to the spot.
In watching the film, the prospect never strays of backtracks from the play. Occasionally, college players will gallop into a play late. However, the Mizzou product bears down on anyone holding the ball, in an attempt to separate them from it. The energy level remains high and the intent clear.
For the longest time, the Raiders’ defense lacked teeth. Now, when Karl Joseph patrolled the secondary, the team enjoyed a bit of that. Yet, linebacker toughness and playmaking ability remained an issue. Granted, the Raiders did sign Vontaze Burfict. However, as we all know, Burfict’s tenure lasted four games, due to his own refusal to alter his style. Meanwhile, Bolton could enter the huddle with both a clean slate and natural talent. With his physicality, Bolton becomes an instant play. At his current draft window, the Raiders won’t need to reach dor him. Bolton’s ability to finish tackles sets him apart from other linebackers in this class. He hits and stops. For years, this unit suffered from poor technique and a catastrophic lack of contact power. However you slice it, Bolton gives the Las Vegas Raiders a third linebacker that could play immediately. The defense keeps the team from making the postseason.