Nick Bolton faces leadership challenge in heart of Chiefs defense

Nick Bolton #54 of the Kansas City Chiefs . (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Nick Bolton #54 of the Kansas City Chiefs . (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /

Nick Bolton, the Kansas City Chiefs‘ first selection of the 2021 NFL Draft, is stepping into a huge role in his second season.

There is always a concern around first and second-round picks and how quickly they will begin to make a legitimate impact, but Bolton made his presence known in his rookie campaign. He emerged as the leading tackler on the entire defense last year, and in 2022, the linebacker will be dawning the green dot. The responsibility of calling in plays as the middle linebacker now officially belongs to number 32.

Nick Bolton has room to emerge as a dynamic new leader in the heart of the Kansas City Chiefs defense in 2022.

In 2021, Bolton made five starts as the Mike and was exceptional, but the role was mostly forfeited to veteran Anthony Hitchens for the other 12 games. Bolton played the rest of his remaining snaps on the weak side—where he appeared to be paying his dues—but Bolton is a player who refuses to take a back seat. He was, far and away, the best run defender in the linebacker corps as a rookie and was second only to Willie Gay Jr. in passes defended.

George Karlaftis and Leo Chenal are new additions whose strength is getting after the passer, and those skills in the Chiefs’ front seven will only greater enhance Bolton’s command on the field. Getting the dogs lined up correctly, and supplementing their efforts with consistency against the run and in coverage will be his most pressing duties.

Bolton’s instincts and comprehension of Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme were obvious in each role he filled last year, but it’s his growth as a leader that Chiefs fans have to look forward to in 2022. The 6-foot, 230-pounder is a physical specimen on the field, but more impressive is his ability to organize the defense at the ripe age of 22.

As a new era of Kansas City football is ushered in this year, Bolton will emerge as the new leader on the defense and begin making his mark within the team’s rich history of linebackers.

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