Draft Digest: Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri

SEC star seen as fireplug in the middle of any defense

Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton

Packers.com consulted more than a dozen mock drafts from reputable national outlets and compiled a list of players most frequently mocked as draft selections in the bottom third of the first round (picks 20-32).

Between now and draft day, when the Packers are slated to select at No. 29 overall, those players will be profiled with thumbnail sketches in a new series entitled "Draft Digest."

Today's player is …

Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri

Height/Weight: 6-0, 232

Key stats: Compiled 202 total tackles over the past two years, including 15 for loss and three sacks. Also had two interceptions, one returned for a TD, and 12 passes defensed.

College honors: Twice named first-team All-Southeastern Conference by both league's coaches and media, and chosen second-team All-American by The Associated Press in 2020.

Background: The son of a Louisiana Tech football alum (Carlos), Bolton has been a linebacker throughout his career. He played as a true freshman at Missouri and then became a full-time starter in 2019, emerging as an SEC star, leading the conference in tackles per game. As a Butkus Award finalist and second-team All-American last season, Bolton has risen up draft boards as high as the bottom of the first round, though projections also have him as low as a late Day 2 selection, mostly because he's undersized. There are questions about his coverage skills, but his pursuit and tackling stand out most on film. He ran a 4.6 40 at Missouri's pro day with 24 bench-press reps at 225 pounds and a 32-inch vertical jump.

Potential fit with Packers: For now, Green Bay has turned over its two inside linebacker spots to Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin, but that doesn't mean another young contender for playing time like Bolton won't be brought into the mix. The undrafted Barnes was the better of the two rookies in 2020, with the fifth-round pick Martin also flashing plenty of potential. Both battled injuries at different times, so nothing with the lineup is set in stone, and spending a high draft pick on Bolton would throw him right into the competition for a starting job in new coordinator Joe Barry's defense. As the Packers look to upgrade their special teams under that phase's new coordinator, Maurice Drayton, a tackler like Bolton would be expected to contribute immediately.

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