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Chiefs fans should get to know Missouri Linebacker Nick Bolton

Updated: Nov 13, 2020



 

The NFL draft is still some time away but it's never too early to talk about some potential draft prospects. We're starting a new series on the site going over Chiefs draft targets in each round. Today obviously will be about Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton.


So, why a linebacker? I think this is pretty obvious. The Chiefs run defense is once again a disaster this year ranked at 30th among all teams and a lot of that has to do with the lack of talent and athleticism at the linebacker position. Anthony Hitchens who has been a pleasant surprise this year is still not what the Chiefs paid him to be and Damien Wilson is a solid rotation player but nothing more and can be a liability in coverage as well as Hitchens. I don't even have to talk about Ben Niemann. Rookie Willie Gay has impressed in limited snaps but the Chiefs will simply need more especially considering this is a contract year for Damien Wilson. Otherwise, the future at linebacker looks bleak for Kansas City.





That's where the Chiefs should look into Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton. While Bolton is no Willie Gay athletically speaking, he's pretty close to the same type of player and plays faster than he will probably run at the combine. Bolton is a great mix of an old-school thumper linebacker and a modern NFL coverage linebacker. He is more sideline-to-sideline than anyone on the Chiefs outside of Willie Gay. Bolton can hit hard and has a nose for the ball as well.


Bolton, a local product, has no injury history and can track down the ball carrier with ease. He also has great size at just over 6ft and 232lbs. Bolton is essentially a do-it-all linebacker and that isn't a fabrication. He consistently graded out as a top linebacker according to Pro Football Focus.





According to PFF, Nick Bolton earned a 91.4 coverage grade which ranked number one among all linebackers and an 89.8 run-defense grade which ranked tenth among all linebackers in the 2019 season. Bolton also recorded 100 total tackles in the 2019 season and is on pace to have another 100-tackle season despite the shortened college football season. Bolton is also considered the leader of the Missouri Tigers defense and that is a trait the Chiefs will need in a future franchise linebacker. Bolton also has a clutch instinct with a knack for recognizing plays. He helped Mizzou beat the defending National Champions LSU by batting down a pass on the one-yard line on third down. Bolton is a big hitter and can easily shed blocks. His play speed is ridiculous. Check out this hit versus Tennessee from the 2019 season:


(Via: https://twitter.com/johndavogel/status/1260934487065550851?s=20)


The best part about Bolton, though, is the fact he is a realistic target and doesn't get as much hype as some of the other draft-eligible linebackers coming up. Micah Parsons from Penn State and Dylan Moses from Alabama are a couple names that will most likely go before Bolton which is ok because that increases the odds he falls to the Chiefs in the latter half of the first round. He could very well go earlier, but there's a chance the Chiefs will get their way here.


Look at it this way, Bolton and Gay are very similar players and it's honestly astonishing how similar they are. Anyways, why not have two Willie Gays? Both have the ability to take on blocks, blitz effectively, and run around with slot receivers and running backs. That would certainly give the Chiefs one of, if not, the best young linebacker duo in the league.


When the NFL draft rolls around next summer, Chiefs fans should absolutely keep an eye on Nick Bolton.

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