Editor’s Note: This post is written by AG user Mattl.
With the 58th pick in the draft, the Chiefs selected Nick Bolton, linebacker from Missouri. Those of you
who were following the comments on Arrowhead Guys during the draft may recall that I was not
particularly happy with the pick. I believed (as did other commenters) that the Chiefs needed to go for a
wide receiver (or EDGE defender). I point this out only to acknowledge that I’ve come around a bit.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at Bolton. He’s a two-time First Team All-SEC member and
also earned Second Team 2020 All-American honors, amassing 202 tackles the last two seasons (an
average of more than 9 tackles/game), including 16.5 tackles for loss. At Missouri, he was known for his
professionalism and work ethic. You will not see the word lazy or lackadaisical anywhere with regard to
him; he’s all about giving maximum effort on every play. At his pro day, he measured in at 5’11” 237 lbs
and ran the 40 in 4.59 seconds. Simply put, this is a very solidly-built man and a super-intense defender
who enjoys laying out ball carriers.
When watching Bolton’s highlights, I remember thinking, “I don’t care what his 40-yard time is. This guy
is a heat-seeking missile to the ball.” His ability in the passing game when going against the speed of NFL
receivers is a bit of a question mark, although many draft analysts have credited Bolton with being good
in zone coverage, with 15 passes defensed at Missouri.
When you watch Bolton, you see the passion that he brings to the field. I’ll concede, of course, that
passion is no substitute for elite talent and ability to cover receivers. It does, however, lead to one of the
reasons that I believe the Chiefs targeted Bolton with their highest pick.
In order to explain, let’s go back to the 2019 offseason. Coming off a defensive collapse in the AFC
Championship game, the Chiefs fired Bob Sutton and released Eric Berry and Justin Houston. They then
hired Steve Spagnuolo, signed Tyrann Mathieu as a free agent and traded a first round pick for Frank
Clark. Word quickly spread that these moves were done to help change the defensive culture of the
team. Mathieu and Clark brought a swagger and intensity (and yes, cockiness) that our defense had
been sorely lacking. Those moves paid off in a big way the last two seasons, not solely due to their play,
but also to their ability to inspire the defense. During the Chiefs Super Bowl run, numerous role-playing
defenders made their biggest plays in the games’ biggest moments. Think about Ben Niemann’s 3rd down
hit on Jimmy Garappolo in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, leading to the Chiefs getting the ball and a
chance to win the game; think about Kendall Fuller’s Super Bowl-sealing interception; and Tanoh
Kpassagnon’s 3rd down sack of Ryan Tannehill early in the 4th quarter of a 28-17 AFC Championship game.
These plays were NOT an accident. I believe they’re a direct result of this “swagger and intensity” that
Mathieu and Clark brought to the defense, helping to motivate other guys to step up when needed.
This leads directly to the reason why I’ve come around on the Bolton pick: I believe that Bolton will
bring a similar intensity and swagger to our defense. Mathieu and Clark’s future with the Chiefs after
the 2021 season is unknown at this point. But having a young defender who’s an alpha-leader on the
field is something that I’m willing to endorse. When the game is on the line, I want a guy like Bolton on
I’ll go on record and say that Bolton will be a starter from Day One. There will be growing pains and
missed assignments, of course. Having said that, I don’t believe we’ll see a Willie Gay situation, with
Bolton struggling to see 50% of the defensive snaps. He’s just too good. Bolton is an excellent defender
with off-the-charts passion for football; his impact will be felt throughout our defense. Consider me a
believer that Bolton will be an integral member of our 2021 Super Bowl defense.