*Walt taking 2014 and 2018
Charlie Campbell, Senior Draft Analyst
Bolton Projected to Second Day of 2021 NFL DraftUpdated March 18, 2021
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
Throughout the leadup to the 2021 NFL Draft, there have been media projections of Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton being a first-round pick. Bolton is coming off two solid seasons for the Tigers. He broke out in 2019 with 100 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and eight passes defended. As a junior, Bolton was even more productive considering he had fewer games in the shortened 2020 season. Over the 10 contests, Bolton recorded 95 tackles, two sacks and five passes defended.
After being one of the most consistent linebackers in the SEC, Bolton had high projections including some analysts putting him in the first round of mock drafts. Sources from seven different NFL teams, however, don’t have first-round grades on Bolton. Their consensus worked out with Bolton in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
One team source said they had Bolton graded as a late second-/early third-round pick. Five others said they had a third-round grade on Bolton, but a few of those evaluators said they would not be surprised if Bolton ends up going off the board in Round 2. One area scout said their team had Bolton in the early rounds of Round 3.
“We have him on Day 3. He’s not a great athlete, and his speed and range are limited,” said that area scout. “He’s not that big either. But he is instinctive and tough.”
A source from a team that is very diligent in its character and background evaluations said Bolton received excellent marks for character, which could help boost him into the second round. Bolton will probably impress coaches in pre-draft interviews, so that could help him as well. Given the consensus grade of Bolton in Round 3 though, it looks like Bolton is more likely to go during the second or third round of the 2021 NFL Draft rather than in Round 1.