The book on Nick Bolton entering the National Football League was that he was a linebacker who loved the game and did the little things well. It sounds as if that scouting report was correct in that the K.C. Chiefs second-round pick is focused on learning as much as he can and honing his craft through practice and repetition.
The Chiefs selected Bolton with their first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the first of two second round picks. With the pick of Bolton, the Chiefs completed a serious overhaul of the second level of their defense, giving them two former second round picks (along with Willie Gay) who should occupy the heart of the Chiefs defense for the next half-decade.
Coming off of a Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that held the Chiefs without a touchdown, it’s interesting that the team is making such hefty investments at the position for which the Bucs also have top-tier talent. It’s a good thing, then, that Bolton sounds like a player with a lot to prove rather than someone entitled as the Chiefs top draft pick in this class.
On Friday, Bolton arrived at St. Joseph, Missouri in order to participate in training camp. Rookies, injured players, and quarterbacks were required to report a few days before others, and the Chiefs made Bolton available to the press in the process.
“I just know the expectation for me is to build trust and that comes with repetition and doing things perfectly all the time. So that’s the kind of expectation I have for myself. I just want to go out there and execute every single day and give him confidence and that gives myself confidence as well.”
When asked about what he was focused on the most, it was clear that Bolton is just trying to map his head around what his coaches are asking of him. Bolton’s skill set and experience would serve the team well in the heart of the field, but to do so, he’ll need to showcase his intelligence and communication skills.
“The playbook. Just digesting that and building confidence in that. That’s what I gained in OTAs and that’s what I hope to build on. I feel I had a good foundation throughout OTAs of learning the playbook, communication, the kind of intangible things that you don’t get by reading the playbook and being out there with the guys.”
Bolton said the entire linebacking corps of the Chiefs has reached out to help him, including the one player most predicted to be replaced by Bolton in time: Anthony Hitchens.
“Anthony Hitchens is one of the smartest football players that I know coming up to here,” said Bolton. “That guy is very seasoned and knows what he’s doing. I’ve talked to him every day with just what to bring up here for training camp or how to develop and how to learn the playbook. He’s been a big help—him, Ben [Niemann], Willie, who is a second year guy but has also been a great help for me as well in my development.”