Kansas City Chiefs: What Nick Bolton can provide in 2021

Linebacker Nick Bolton #32 of the Missouri Tigers intercepts a pass (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Linebacker Nick Bolton #32 of the Missouri Tigers intercepts a pass (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Chiefs’ first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft was Missouri linebacker, Nick Bolton. What should the Chiefs expect from Bolton in year one?

It was a long wait for the Kansas City Chiefs to get on the clock in the 2021 NFL Draft but when they finally did, they made the most of it, grabbing Nick Bolton with the No. 58 pick. Bolton had a first-round grade on several different sites but was available late in the second round where the Chiefs didn’t hesitate to snatch him up.

While the pick was met with mixed reviews, Bolton fills a position of need for the Chiefs. Linebacker has been one of the team’s weakest spots the past few years and despite the team putting money and draft picks into the position, it’s continued to sputter. Hopefully Bolton is one step closer to changing that narrative.

What can Nick Bolton bring to the Kansas City Chiefs?

First and foremost, Bolton is a really good tackler and solid against the run. These are two areas that the Chiefs defense needs to improve in and Bolton will definitely be an upgrade in those two departments. He had over 100 tackles in the 2019 season and then added 95 more tackles to his resumé in his final season with the Tigers. He’s a tackling machine.

The knock on Bolton is that he’s not great in pass coverage, which is obviously problematic in what’s become a pass-heavy league. He’ll definitely need to polish up on those skills before the Chiefs can truly feel comfortable with him.

The Chiefs have Anthony Hitchens and Willie Gay as their two main linebackers in 2021 and Bolton will join that core. He replaces Damien Wilson, who signed with Jacksonville over the season, and immediately leapfrog Ben Niemann on the depth chart (or he should anyway, otherwise we have major problems here).

Chiefs fans who also root for the Missouri Tigers are more familiar with Bolton than most Chiefs draft picks because they watched him closely in college and know what he can do. That’s why this pick might be getting a lot of mixed reviews than normal.

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The bottom line is that Bolton is a very athletic linebacker and can bring things to this defense that the Chiefs aren’t used to having. I’m excited to see him take the field for the Chiefs and to lay some heavy licks on opponents. We haven’t seen a hard linebacker hit since Derrick Johnson was with the Chiefs in the 2017 season. Time to bring those hard hits back!