KC Chiefs honor Nick Bolton as team’s Rookie of the Year

Nick Bolton, KC Chiefs. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Nick Bolton, KC Chiefs. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Chiefs could have gone multiple directions with their vote for the annual Mack Lee Hill award, but this year’s honoree as the team’s best rookie belongs to linebacker Nick Bolton.

The Chiefs awarded Bolton with their version of a Rookie of the Year award on Tuesday with the news after watching the defender put up an incredible body of work in his first season in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. For the year, Bolton led the team with 112 tackles, including 11 of them for a loss, in 16 games for the Chiefs.

Bolton wasn’t expected to earn so much playing time as a rookie, and he especially was not penciled in for 12 starts. However, injuries to both Willie Gay Jr. and Anthony Hitchens forced the Chiefs to lean on Bolton earlier than hoped. The results were much better than anyone could have anticipated.

The Chiefs honored linebacker Nick Bolton by naming him the Mack Lee Hill award winner for the team’s best rookie of 2021.

For the Chiefs, the decision to select this year’s top rookie presented a wonderful sort of problem for those in charge. That’s because the team had multiple players who could have fit the bill. Alongside Bolton’s phenomenal season, the Chiefs also watched two rookies start every single game along the offensive line with sparkling results: center Creed Humphrey and guard Trey Smith.

Humphrey was just named the No. 26 best overall player for the 2021 season according to Pro Football Focus and their metrics that measure performance. Smith earned less acclaim overall but he’s a mauler with a bright future who provided a tremendous return on a sixth-round investment.

Bolton’s ability to perform well in the face of early playing time should only enhance his future stock as a reliable contributor in the heart of the defense. Alongside Gay, the Chiefs have their linebacker corps set for years to come and the duo should only continue to improve from here on out.

Next. How does the backfield look for the Chiefs in '22?. dark