With the 58th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton. The Arrowhead Report Roundtable gives their instant reactions on the Chiefs' first selection in this year's draft.
Joshua Brisco: Nick Bolton is an explosive, physical linebacker who should be a lot of fun to watch when he's on the field. ...I'm just not sure when that will be. The Chiefs have now taken a linebacker in the second round of two consecutive drafts, all while paying Anthony Hitchens a significant amount of money to hold down the middle of the defense. Bolton projects as an eventual Hitchens replacement, which would be a nice financial value, I'm just not sure he sees the field much in 2021 unless the Chiefs have cooled down on Willie Gay Jr. He doesn't have the coverage tools to replace Ben Niemann in 2021. Especially with super-talented receivers like Dyami Brown and Terrace Marshall Jr. still on the board, the Bolton pick feels like a positional misfire, due to no fault of Bolton's.
Tucker Franklin: While linebacker depth was an issue for the Chiefs and I expected them to address it in the draft, I didn't expect them to add a backer this early. Kansas City had a favorable board fall to them at No. 58 when it came to filling their two bigger needs in wide receiver and edge rusher. There's nothing wrong with this selection if it's followed by a wide receiver. The path to playing time might be tough for Bolton in his rookie year, but if he can impress and find himself on the field as the third linebacker, he's an upgrade over Ben Neimann.
Jordan Foote: Nick Bolton is an intelligent linebacker who could possibly fill the SAM role immediately for the Chiefs. He’s at his best when going downhill and while his athletic profile is underwhelming, he projects to have a bright future with the team. With Anthony Hitchens being under contract through 2022, the Chiefs are thinking ahead with this move while still addressing a position that needed an injection of talent.
Conner Christopherson: I love Nick Bolton the person and player, I just do not love his fit with the Chiefs. He is not a linebacker who takes snaps away from Ben Niemann, so what is the plan for the linebacking corps? If they are going to move Willie Gay Jr to will linebacker and starting Gay/Hitchens/Bolton then that can work, but if this pick leads to Niemann still seeing the field I don't really get it. If anything, Bolton probably leads to the end of Anthony Hitchens' Chiefs career sooner rather than later. Time will tell how the position looks for 2021 and beyond.
Mark Van Sickle: Nick Bolton gives the Chiefs a nice young core at LB, being the second year in a row KC took LB in round 2. They should be looking fine at that position for years to come. The board fell in a way that the Chiefs could have gone in a number of ways. My guess is Bolton was their “best player available” so they decided to take him. Don’t love the pick but don’t hate it. It’s a pick that will hopefully pay off with a good, solid, young linebacker core for the foreseeable future that helps take the defense to another level.
Sam Hays: The Chiefs could have made a more flashy pick, but that’s okay. Nick Bolton is a really athletic dude who can make guys pay with his hitting ability. He’s a great run defender and he has allowed fewer than 400 career receiving yards in two full seasons starting. The main thing I want for improvement with Bolton is getting his missed tackle percentage down a bit. If he does that, he and Willie Gay Jr. could be a wonderful linebacker duo for years to come.
Jacob Harris: This isn’t Jacob Harris. F.