NAME: Nick Bolton
WEIGHT: 232 pounds
A native of Frisco, Texas, Nick Bolton was a perennial standout at Lone Star High School. According to 247 Sports, he was named the District 9-5A Defensive Newcomer of the Year as a freshman in 2014. He was named District 9-5A Defensive Sophomore MVP in 2015. The same Defensive MVP award was given to Bolton as a junior, as well. Finally as a senior, he finished his high school career with 130 tackles and five interceptions. One of his dream offers, Washington, got subsequently pulled after a difficult situation during the recruiting process. Eventually, Bolton committed to Missouri.
From the jump, Bolton made an instant impact with the Tigers. He played in all 13 games as a true freshman. After an increased role in both his sophomore and junior seasons, the stat sheets started to be padded. The team also started to make a bigger impact in the SEC East. Following both campaigns, Bolton was named First Team All-SEC. 2020 also saw him receive an AP Second Team All-American honor.
To accomplish what he did with the Tigers was impressive given the trying recruiting process. The three star recruit also had a strong family foundation helping him out. In an article by Bennett Durando of the Missourian, it was detailed how his mother and sister were both defeating cancer. A family man is now so close to achieving his dream of making it to the NFL.
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Bolton is a violent hitter. When ball carriers meet him in open space, they must have stout ball security. His jarring collisions, wide strike zone and quick twitch style can lead to turnovers. Additionally, Bolton knows how to use his leverage and get under opponent’s pads. He possesses tremendous flexibility that not many defenders can call their own. As a result, Bolton is able to shoot and coil when finishing tackles because of his dense frame. As a tackler, he has impressively substantial results in short yardage or goal to go situations.
Overall, Bolton’s athletic ability is what has been lacking from the Chiefs linebacker room for a good while. They are starting to get that from recent additions. But, there is much development still needed. His skillset is perfect for today’s pass heavy league in the NFL. Personally, I believe he has the ability and leadership needed in order to play all three positions on the second level. Where Bolton works best, is as a downhill thumper and moving laterally. He just has the knack for slicing through the gaps and openings to catch opponents off guard. Not many players can sneak into those nooks and crannies like he can. Meanwhile, Bolton has sufficient field awareness and can play in space. This is evidenced in zone pass coverage.
Piggybacking off of that last point a bit, Bolton has proven that he can cover in the short to intermediate passing game. Many times he reads the routes or the play before the ball even gets there. This occurs mostly versus running backs or on crossing routes. Bolton is well respected for his read and react ability. Processing the playing and recognizing his landmarks on the field, are a big part of his winning reps. The processing almost stands out more in pass coverage, than against offensive run attempts. Finally, Bolton is commended for his long history of detailed note taking and film study.
For whatever reason, Bolton seems to stop his feet when taking on blocks. You can see missteps happen as well. This is either due to some hesitation on his part, or due to the shiftiness of the opposing running back. Bolton may have length questions that could lead to issues, depending on if he is playing at MIKE, WILL or SAM. His ability to scrape and thump when going downhill will hopefully counteract some of this. However, Bolton will need to develop a more aggressive punch and pop in his hands to best blockers.
Short area quickness is not a large problem. Nonetheless, there appear to be reps where Bolton gets lost, if he has to restart after stopping. Basically, you see him fade out of the play when the traffic gets murky. He is smart with how he uses his angles to meet opponents. Bolton will not outrun or keep up with the burners, though. Due to the havoc he creates in the backfield, I’d say he hides this pretty well.
You love to see a linebacker flying around and making plays at all areas of the field. Yet, there are still some reps where Bolton gets a little anxious. You cannot knock him for his effort or hot motor. Bolton can sometimes get upfield too quickly or miss on his angles. There is also a slight knock on his tackling, where as the linebacker cannot finish as thorough as he would like. His explosiveness and violent power help to lessen the blow there. Most of all, the eagerness can often lead him in the wrong direction. You see this on head fakes or pump fakes from opposing passers.
Nick Bolton would be a tremendous fit with the Kansas City Chiefs defense. Because of his high energy, effort and motor, you can rely on him for many tasks. Simply, he is a playmaker. If you want him to fill and plug, there is no better defensive tackle to do that behind than Chris Jones. With the superstar that 95 is, his attention would leave open lanes for Bolton. You also have to be happy about his ability in pass coverage. Similar to 2020 rookie Willie Gay, Bolton is comfortable in coverage while moving laterally, flying down against screens or dropping back over the middle. Primarily, the Chiefs would adore having a defender who can make stops in open space.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs draft prospect profiles throughout the winter and spring. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.