After making a trade with the Baltimore Ravens to get offensive tackle Orlando Brown, Jr., the Kansas City Chiefs sat out the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. But thanks to a pick they got back from the Ravens, they also made their first selection of the draft five picks earlier in the second round.
And with that 58th pick on Friday night, the Chiefs chose University of Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton.
Over three seasons at Mizzou, Bolton played in 35 games, accumulating 224 tackles (149 solo and 16 for loss), four sacks, a pair of interceptions and 15 passes defensed. The Chiefs intend to use him as a three-down MIKE linebacker — a position where he will initially play behind starter Anthony Hitchens.
Speaking to the press after his selection, Bolton said it was a culmination of a lifelong dream.
“All the hard work I’ve put in to get this position — working day in and day out — to put myself in position to get my name called for the NFL Draft has been a dream of mine since I was four or five years old,” he said. “So living it out — being with my family, being close to them — was a special moment for all of us.”
A native of Frisco, Texas — where he played at Lone Star High School — he said that he has appreciated playing in the Midwest.
“Being in Missouri — being around that community — being around the University of Missouri was kind of good on my heart. Being coached in Missouri — and playing for the Chiefs — was really a dream come true.”
Fellow Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. had raised eyebrows with a tweet as Kansas City grew closer to their first pick.
Nick Bolton I feel it— Willie Gay Jr. (@WillieG___) May 1, 2021
This, of course, posed the question of how well the two players know each other. But although Bolton said he knows Gay personally, he didn’t exactly describe a tight friendship, either.
“I really didn’t have any conversations with Willie,” he explained. “Interesting story: I was looking to go to college at Mississippi State — where Willie was at — and I went to a camp down there. He kind of showed me around — that’s how I first met him. So we kind of had a little history. I talked to him a little bit at that camp — a little bit of communication and stuff like that. That’s how I knew Willie.”
Now that Bolton will be joining Gay in the Kansas City linebacker corps, they’ll undoubtedly grow their relationship. And Bolton said he is ready to take on the responsibilities he’ll have as a MIKE linebacker in defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme.
“I did that at the University of Missouri in my last two seasons there,” he said. “I feel confident that I can do what the coach wants to do — making the calls and still being able to do my job. I feel real confident in myself to call plays.”
And from the sound of it, he’ll fit right in with the team’s culture.
“Like you see on film, I’m just an ultimate competitor,” he declared. “I want to compete. I want to get myself in a position to make plays for a football team.
“I want to win. I want to be part of a legacy and make my mark in the NFL.”