WT: 235 lbs
High School: Lone Star High (Frisco, Texas)
Speed/Athleticism: Nick Bolton is an average athlete at the linebacker position, showing just average speed at the position. Bolton, however, is deceptively quick and explosive. He shows good lateral movement skills as well.
Strength/Power: I wouldn’t say that Bolton is a particularly strong or powerful prospect, but he has some fantastic hit power when moving to make a tackle. Struggles to move around blockers when engaged with them. He doesn’t hold his own very well, mostly because he plays with a higher balance than he should.
Tackling/Pursuit: Bolton is a good tackler. Excellent wrap-up form and doesn’t miss many tackles when he positions himself right. Hit power is tremendous. Pursuit angles could be a lot better. Bolton is sometimes just a little bit too aggressive and over-pursues.
Coverage Ability: Bolton shows a good ability to drop into coverage. He has good hands to make plays on the football and intercepted two passes against West Virginia. That being said, Bolton isn’t good about getting depth when dropping into zone coverage and doesn’t have the straight-line speed to play with tight ends and slot receivers moving down the field. Often times, he doesn’t drop enough and when he does, he drops too much. He has a lot to learn about placing himself in zone coverage.
Pass Rush Ability: Bolton is excellent at timing with getting through the line to pressure the quarterback. Once he engages with a blocker, I think he’s pretty much shut down. He doesn’t really have any moves or anything that he can use to free himself up and doesn’t have great strength to disengage a set pass rusher.
Football IQ/Instincts: Bolton’s IQ is something that makes his skillset extremely enticing. He consistently positions himself in the play to make good plays and be effective as a defender. Bolton uses his limited athletic ability so well to make plays on the football and understands the flow of the game so well.
Leadership/Personality: Appears to be well-liked in the locker room, and picked up a leadership role very well when Cale Garrett went down with an injury last season. I think Bolton has good tools to work with. Appears to be clean off of the field.
Nick Bolton is an extremely intriguing prospect. While he’s not the most athletically gifted linebacker, Bolton shows very solid football intelligence and plays with a very high motor. His intensity and hit power are often astonishing, reminiscent of Vontaze Burfict and his skillset. Bolton is more athletic but just as smart, powerful, and explosive. I love the idea of Bolton playing middle linebacker in the NFL and if he can improve his overall strength and his zone coverage, he’s a first-round pick next year.
What I want to see in 2020: I do want to see Bolton get stronger. His strength seems to be lacking at times, and he really struggles to get off of blocks. His zone coverage needs to improve too. I don’t know if you are ever going to expect him to cover man, but just getting the proper depth in zone coverage would be great to see.
Grade: Low Impact