Saints potential draft prospect: LB Nick Bolton
- Mock Draft Share: 7.43% (4th)
- EDP Rank: 49th
- Draft Model Rank: 187th
Everything mentioned with Collins about the limits of the linebacker position can be copy and pasted here, but unlike the Tulsa linebacker, there are serious questions about Nick Bolton’s quality of play at the next level.
By all accounts, Bolton has tremendous instincts for the position and is a fearless player. He was a major part of Missouri’s defense and held his own in the SEC and was constantly around the ball. Yet, his production also declined this season, which led us to the “cons” of his skillset.
For starters, Bolton is more of a traditional “mike” linebacker and doesn’t have a lot of overall versatility. This inherently limits his value, especially as true linebackers continue to be less and less valuable with teams shifting more towards dime and nickel packages as often as possible.
Then, there’s Bolton’s athletic testing, which, to be frank, is incredibly worrisome. His 7.40 three-cone drill is one of the lowest for a linebacker and speaks to poor change of direction ability, which is far from ideal- the three-cone drill is the most predictive athletic measure for linebackers, based on my research.
Remember, it’s not like he makes up for that with elite length; he’s listed at 6-foot-0, which is on the shorter end for the position.
Athleticism isn’t everything, but a major reason why production from college to pro is unstable for linebackers is that players without elite athleticism can be exposed by modern offenses.
The margin of error for a player with Bolton’s profile is slim, and there is simply too much error elsewhere. He, unfortunately, would probably be New Orleans’ least optimal pick.