NFL Insider Predicts Chiefs Defender to Have Breakout Season

Andy Reid, Steve Spagnuolo

Getty Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid watches and evaluates alongside defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo during the final preseason outing.

2021 second-round pick Nick Bolton hit the ground running during his first year in the NFL. The Kansas City Chiefs linebacker recorded 112 tackles and 11 tackles for loss during his rookie season, per Pro Football Reference, which is among the best stat lines for a rookie linebacker in recent memory.

With such a strong rookie campaign, what should we expect from Bolton during his second season? One NFL insider believes Bolton will make another leap and be regarded as one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

NFL insider and Good Morning Football host, Peter Schrager, had Bolton ranked No. 2 on his top 10 breakout players list heading into the 2022 regular season.

“Nick Bolton came on real strong last year, but this year is the year I think he makes it, where it’s like, ‘Oh, Nick Bolton is one of the best linebackers in the entire sport,’ because that’s the leap,” Schrager said on Good Morning Football on September 2.

With veteran linebacker Anthony Hitchens being cut by Kansas City this offseason, Bolton has taken over the duties of wearing the green dot on defense as well as being a leader. With third-year linebacker Willie Gay Jr. alongside him and a revamped defensive line in front of him, it’s very possible Bolton takes another step forward and is recognized as one of the top linebackers in the league by the end of the 2022 season.

Bolton on Taking Leadership Role

Bolton spoke with Chiefs media on August 30 and was asked about how he handles teammates coming to him on the field with questions.

“That’s actually pretty cool. Last year it was Hitch (Anthony Hitchens), so I kind of got to figure out the stuff that makes them play faster so it’s kind of open communication,” Bolton explained.

“Just trying to figure out what makes a corner play faster. When they communicate, what are they seeing? What are they seeing from the stuff outside in versus a D‐end or a D‐tackle? Maybe there’s a verbiage I can use to make them understand something I’m saying quicker or something like that. Just open communication, just learning. Again, it’s still new to me. I’m still learning, still evolving, I’m trying the best way to be a mike‐backer (middle linebacker). I’m just going to continue to do that as well.”

Andy Reid on What’s Next for Chiefs

With the preseason over and the Chiefs’ first regular season game not until September 11, there’s quite a gap for the team in terms of having no games but a lot of practices leading up to Week 1.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid detailed during his press conference on August 30 what Kansas City is focusing on during the week leading up to Week 1 of the regular season.

“No, it’s training camp because we don’t have a game to go on that counts,” Reid said when asked if the team is still doing installs or game planning for their regular season opener against the Arizona Cardinals. “But, at the same time, you’re trying to prep them for what they’re going to have coming going forward. All the way down to practicing the practices. Making sure that they have a taste of what they are going to have next week, once they get ready to play Arizona.”

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