With their first pick in 2021, the Chiefs go local on the defensive side of the football.
Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton is a Kansas City Chief. pic.twitter.com/iq7WHNovNy
— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) May 1, 2021
6’ | 232 lbs | Missouri
Grade (round): Third
Background: Two-year starter at Missouri. Three-star recruit. First-team All-SEC in 2019 and 2020. Second-team All-American in 2020. Father played linebacker for Louisiana Tech.
Strengths: Bolton is an explosive, dense athlete who is well built for the linebacker position. He possesses terrific burst when getting downhill and converts that to power well when attacking blockers and ballcarriers. This explosion also translates to his blitzing ability as well. Bolton does well to square up and play behind his pads, and he limits extra yardage from the ball-carrier when tackling. He has good ankle flexion to plant and drive downhill through the gap. He takes terrific angles and doesn’t often end up behind the play. Bolton called fronts for Missouri as the MIKE linebacker and possessed good enough range to play in the middle of the field. He has a high football IQ and communicates adjustments well to his teammates. Bolton has good body control and attacks the proper shoulder of the offensive line to leverage and rip through to where he’s going. His gap control between the tackles is top-notch, and he uses his lateral agility to poke his head in a gap, then cut back to the ball-carrier for a stop.
Weaknesses: Bolton’s weaknesses largely revolve around his coverage ability. He wasn’t asked to cover often in man coverage, and he was largely a hook zone dropper in 2020. Bolton needs to sink better in his zone drops when no routes develop underneath him. His route feel is week and he struggled to stay in phase when in man coverage. Bolton overpursues play-action passes and ends up very late to pick up a tight end or running back leaking to his side of the field. He will sometimes load up for the tone-setting hit and whiff against nimble opponents.
How he fits with the Chiefs: Bolton’s build, high football IQ, range and block deconstruction would make him an ideal fit for any of Steve Spagnuolo’s linebacker spots. He would immediately play on base downs next to Anthony Hitchens and Willie Gay Jr. — and could ease into sub-packages as his coverage ability progresses. Going forward, Bolton would be an ideal fit at the MIKE linebacker position, giving them a very athletic pair of linebackers in 2022 and beyond.
Chiefs Draft Picks
- Second round (58th): Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton
- Second round (63rd): Oklahoma offensive lineman Creed Humphrey
- Fourth round (144th)
- Fifth round (175th)
- Fifth round (181st)
- Sixth round (207th)