There are 11 games in the books — and six more to go. While we may not be right at the halfway mark of the 2021 regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs are taking their bye week in Week 11, so it's a good time to dish out some awards.
The Arrowhead Pride writing staff members each had one vote for our seven midseason awards. There are 12 contributors, so there will be 12 votes tallied for each award. In this post, we'll reveal our defensive rookie of the year to this point of the season.
In the voting for Arrowhead Pride's Bye Week Awards, the staff was unanimous in one decision: the midseason Defensive Rookie of the Year, Nick Bolton.
While there wasn't much competition from fellow defensive rookies Joshua Kaindoh or undrafted free agent DiCaprio Bootle, Bolton fully deserves the undisputed honor.
Bolton currently leads the Chiefs in tackles, with 79 (including 50 solo tackles). His 11 tackles for loss rank seventh in the NFL and only second among rookies behind Cowboys playmaker Micah Parsons.
With Anthony Hitchens out with a knee injury in Week 7 against the Tennessee Titans and Week 8 against the New York Giants, Bolton filled in admirably at the MIKE position, wearing the green dot and calling plays and setting up the defense. His four tackles for loss and stonewalling Derrick Henry contributed to him winning October's AFC Defensive Player of the Month honors.
No. 5: We'll stay with the worst game of the #Chiefs' season for a second. Can't leave Nashville without talking about Nick Bolton's breakout game. Bolton was all over the best RB in the NFL, giving him confidence that he can do this against anyone (and he since has). pic.twitter.com/DITfqKVzDp— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) November 19, 2021
It's not just the on-field production that has stood out; it's also his leadership and football IQ. Safety Tyrann Mathieu called Bolton a "blessing" for the Chiefs. "
You don't see too many rookie middle linebackers tasked with [wearing the green dot], so to see Spags put his trust in him – obviously, the kid is a good football player."
As the former Mizzou standout gains more experience, he may become even more explosive within Spagnuolo's system.
"I came in every week trying to get a little better," Bolton told reporters during his press conference last week. "I feel like I've done that up to this point. I'm trying to put myself in the best position to help my team win."
While Bolton has admitted to needing to work on his pass coverage, it's his run defense that has been eye-popping. Pro Football Focus has given Bolton a good run defense grade and an elite tackling grade.
As the weather turns and the championship contenders start to separate themselves from the pretenders, stopping the run and getting off the field in the red zone are all hallmarks of a championship defense. Bolton has shown he can step in and contribute to a defense that has led the change of fortune for this Chiefs team in 2021.
Who is your bye week defensive rookie of the year?