After starting off the season as a projected number one or two linebacker in the country due to an incredible sophomore season, Nick Bolton of Missouri did his best to keep up the success. Although he did cool off a bit during his Junior year, Bolton showed growth from last year even after such an incredible season. He’s made a strong case to be the 3rd linebacker taken in this class after Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Micah Parsons. His incredible play has brought him into possible first-round conversations, although the most likely landing spot for him is in the early second round. Regardless he has still shown some first-round talent and could end up being a great pick if he does indeed fall to the second.
Nick Bolton Stats And Measurables:
Weight: 231 lbs
2018 Stats: 10 Games/22 TOTAL/12 SOLO/1 SACK/
2019 Stats: 12 Games/100 TOTAL/70 SOLO/1 SACK/2 INT/8 PD/1 TD
2020 Stats: 10 Games/95 TOTAL/53 SOLO/2 SACK/1 FR/5 PD
1. At Missouri, Bolton possessed an extremely quick burst. This burst helped him shoot gaps with ease, and it allowed him to reach top speed very quickly after changing directions. He was a big playmaker for the Tigers and his burst was a big factor in him being able to make these plays. His run support is very strong due to his ability to get through gaps and close up running lanes. Once he read where a run was going (which he did very well) he could react fast to fill the gap before a ballcarrier could get through.
2. Bolton’s instincts are phenomenal as well. He can read plays almost before they happen and usually is in the right place at the right time. His mental attributes are very well developed which is very important for a physical linebacker such as Bolton. Tons of Bolton’s tackles came when he used his instincts to give him opportunities to make a play, where he capitalized. Mental mistakes are a very big concern for young linebackers, as linebackers are usually the heart and soul of your defense, and they have to make important decisions using instinct often. Bolton does this incredibly well and he was a perfect fit at Missouri because of it.
3. He is a very physical linebacker also. Even with his above-average athleticism, Bolton is one of the most physical players in this class. He loves contact and when he has the opportunity to make a tackle he never hesitates to make it. He’s a very emotional player and his physicality is a big part of that. He’s able to make big hits look easy and his tackling numbers are eye-popping. With his physical play does come the injury concerns, but Bolton was never very injury prone in college which is a very good sign for his future in the NFL.
1. Even though Bolton is a very physical player and is a good tackler as well, he can sometimes get over-aggressive. There are times when he will fling himself at a ball carrier trying to knock them down and instead he either misses the tackler, or the runner is able to stay on his feet. Other times he may take an overly aggressive angle to the ball, moving him out of position to make a tackle. He sometimes overly relies on his speed in these instances, and even though it may work some of the time, in the NFL players are much faster and it will cost him if he continues to do this.
2. Versatility is another question for Bolton. He rarely lined up outside of the box and when he did he usually struggled. Most of these times Bolton was beaten downfield, and the other times he struggled to read routes or wasn’t able to flip his hips fast enough to keep with his matchup. Although the team who drafts Bolton well most likely try to play to his strengths by not lining him outside often, it is a pretty big limitation to the defense that will be worked on in the NFL.
The skillset that Nick Bolton possesses is very special. He is a physical tackle machine that provides great run support due to his quick burst and well-tuned instincts. He’s already shown that he is capable of great things. His upside combined with his young age certainly give him a very very bright future. He does have some areas that he needs to work on however, his versatility and occasional tackling inconsistency make up the main areas of concern for most teams, but his potential is immeasurable regardless of the flaws he may have. With some work, Nick Bolton has the opportunity to do big things in the NFL. As long as he is developed well, Bolton has the talent to become an elite linebacker.