Stud Linebacker May Be On Board At No. 32

April 21st, 2021

Tough on the run.

Something jumped out at Joe while going through Ryan McCrystal’s final mock draft last night.

McCrystal, who is one of the more accurate mockers, has linebackers going really late in the first round. In fact, a guy many mockers had in the first round, Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton, McCrystal has lasting to the second round.

Outside of offensive tackle and maybe tight end, one could pull a position name out of a hat and make a logical argument the Bucs should draft the guy. So let Joe make an argument for linebacker.

Bolton is damn good against the run. Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is huge on stopping the run first. Bolton would fit right in.

Backup defenders took a ton of snaps last year for the Bucs. Well, in wins over the slimy Saints, the Packers and the Chiefs, the Bucs defense played lights out. Joe is convinced this was because, when you add in the late bye, the Bucs had fresher legs on defense than anyone else.

Devin White and Lavonte David don’t have much behind them. So Bolton would help solve that. Also, sadly, David isn’t a young pup any longer. Saving him some snaps could go a long way for this team. And of course, Bolton could likely someday replace David. As much as Joe doesn’t want to think about that, that day will come.

Bolton has had 202 tackles over the past two seasons and led the SEC in tackles. Not the AAC, but the SEC. He is a two-time All-SEC linebacker. That’s good enough for Joe.

So Joe went to see what his good friend Emory Hunt, the Czar of the Playbook, had to write about Bolton in his Gameplan Draft Guide. Hunt isn’t a huge fan, grading him as his No. 8 linebacker.

– Excellent vision at the position, able to straight up ‘see ball, hit ball’, with regards to the interior run game.
– Uses his size to his advantage, showing the ability to sidestep or dip underneath oncoming blockers and make the play.
– Fluid athleticism and gets fantastic zone drops because of it. He’s got good hip swivel and moves across zones with ease.
– Has point-and-shoot acceleration to quickly close and drive on the ball, or ball carrier.

Areas of Improvement:
– His size can also get him into trouble at times when he takes on blockers, as the lack of length can get him engulfed by a guard.

The way Joe looks at it, if Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht brings Bolton on board, there is nothing not to like about the move.

36 Responses to “Stud Linebacker May Be On Board At No. 32”

  1. Medicated Pete Says:

    I’m convinced it’s LB or CB or trade for a team’s next year #1

  2. SB~LV Says:

    Bolton is a good one !
    So many choices

  3. 813bucboi Says:

    drafting bolton would give us some flexibility and depth….we could play 43 with LVD, DW, and the rook…or he could provide depth….

    i really want c.baremore in the 1st or trade down but i’d be cool with us drafting this kid…

    GO BUCS!!!!

  4. SteveK Says:


    Great point and eye for talent. This reminds me of you howling for us to draft Lavonte David damn near a decade ago.

    I love the film on Bolton. He’s got wiggle, great instincts, and is a human missile tackling machine. I would love this pick.

  5. SteveK Says:


    Baramore would be nice too.

    I just want BPA. I’d be ok with OL too. Protect Brady and he will ball out for another couple of years. Go Bucs!

  6. Mitch Says:

    Go for production character and attitude. Bolton would be acceptable. Azeez Ojulari or Patick Jones II would be ideal. @813 Barmore was an inconsistent rotational player on a good team, and any other year he is a third round draft pick. This DT class is so weak he going to be over drafted. Its being called the worst DL draft we’ve seen in over 15 years.

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Pick the best athlete there at 32 or trade down….then use the pick to trade up in round 2 for 2 very good round 2 picks.

  8. Joe Says:

    Great point and eye for talent. This reminds me of you howling for us to draft Lavonte David damn near a decade ago.

    LOL Thanks SteveK, but Joe’s not that good of an evaluator, otherwise he’d be making much, much more cash working in some football office. 🙂 Appreciate the kind words.

    Nick Bolton always seems to be around the ball (like Ossai) which suggests he can read and react. That’s half the battle: Putting yourself in position to make a play. And it’s not like he was playing against Fun Belt teams.

  9. geno711 Says:

    You keep saying that it is McCrystal’s final mock draft.

    But his own article instead says:

    “…here’s the final mock before the final mock…”

    So although it is confusing…. to me that means one more mock draft prior to the one you are feeding us today from this dude.

  10. adam from ny Says:

    we’re one injury from thin at backer…

    drafting one might be the late first round answer…

    sure up the middle of the d…minter will never be signed for more than year to year for a reason…

    cichy can’t stay healthy —ever, cam gill and the other guy don’t even play much…except special teams…so that trio ain’t the answer at this point either…

    we prolly could have done better with joe dirt at the tail end of the linebacker crew lol…

    also it’s interesting that no one scooped up clay matthews towards the end of last season…he must be so done…

    we’re def one linebacker short

  11. Kalind Says:

    Pass. Too slow

  12. mike Says:

    Have to find a good player at any postion. Just can’t wiff and get a nobody like we did in 2003 and 2004 after our 1st SB

  13. Waterboy Says:

    Idea of a LB sounds good but not one that cant excel in pass coverage! D White struggles in this role and I have a sense that after JPP retires, we just may see White become more of a pass rushing specialist. Bucs need a pass coverage LB and would look at other options besides Bolton!

  14. Swampbuc Says:

    We definitely need depth at LB and Edge. Looking forward to the draft!

  15. Mitch Says:

    @Kalind he ran .02 slower at his pro-day than Lavonte David did at the combine.

    Although Bolton doesn’t have the same production as Lavonte or Devin did in college. He was close, and was graded better in coverage than both of them during his college career.

    Just as a note it’s freaky looking at the stats but David and White were almost identical in total tackles, TFL, sacks, and passes defended coming out of school.

  16. StickinUp4Centers Says:

    I like the idea of drafting a quality LB as I think it can actually provide depth for both ILB/OLB. For instance, if either LVD or DW gets hurt, the LB can step into their shoes. If JPP or Shaq get hurt, DW’s pass-rushing skills could be utilized there while the LB steps up inside.

  17. Steven007 Says:

    Well, apparently sapp hates Barmore so in essence that’s probably a vote for Barmore.

  18. adam from ny Says:

    if going LB, gotta try to bring in another sideline to sideline type freak…

    not just a heavy hitter…

    if you can somehow in the next year or so, put another devin white next to devin white, the dynasty just might continue…

    yes i typed that correctly…

    imagine basically having 2 devin whites…once lavonte retires…

    now that’s a plan

  19. Erick Says:

    1st: edge/ pass rusher (Ossai, Ajulari)
    2nd: IOL (Landon Dickerson or Quinn Meinerz if available)

  20. Cobraboy Says:

    Plus, he has a linebacker name..

  21. catcard202 Says:

    With current team make-up & aging DEF stars on short deals…A rock solid DT or DE prospect to develop behind Suh/JPP, would make a ton of sense….Neither is a lock to return in 2022…With no serious pressing needs (to fill starter roles), now’s the time to make some plans for the future.

  22. ncbucsfan Says:

    Here we go again with Nick Bolton!! He’ll definitely be available….late 2nd or 3rd rd. At #32 would be a trash pick and ruin my 3hr wait on the 1st night. We can trade back for sure and still get Bolton. Trash pick in the 1st, periodt!!!

  23. ncbucsfan Says:

    Chaz Surratt is a better ILB prospect in my opinion….projected 3rd rd due to lack of experience

  24. BucEmUp Says:

    Lb, corner or trenches I will be happy.

    The dumbest idea I have heard so far is wasting a first round pick… on a rb

  25. Hodad Says:

    Not at #32.

  26. FrankPillow Says:

    UK’s Jamin Davis is a stud—if he’s still there at 32, he’ll be hard to pass up

  27. Ash Says:

    I dunno about this take at 32 seems kinda wild I would rather take derrick barnes later on in the draft

  28. Your Mom Says:

    I would like some inside linebacker depth, but not at the first round. I think you are better off using the first round on a guy who you project as a full starter in year 2.

  29. Stanglassman Says:

    At 64 yes he would have good value. I realize this guy’s stock has risen but I don’t think he is realistically a first round pick.

  30. Bucsfanman Says:

    “Bolton? Are you related to…”

    Isn’t it fun when you have, literally, no clue who we might pick. We have no holes in the roster of note. BPA, for real!

    This would be a good pick considering LVD’s age and our depth at LB.

  31. Buczilla Says:

    They said the same negative things about David when he was coming out and I’d say that he turned out pretty good. Similar size, exact same 4.59 40 time, so I’d be thrilled if we took a chance on this dude. Get em Licht!

  32. Mike Says:

    Two things we need in a 1st round pick. 1: Freakishly athletic 2: Loves the game.

  33. Pete Says:

    Protect 12
    Improve running game

  34. WhatTheBuc Says:

    Mitch, pro day numbers are suspect. The combine tests every player on the same surface with identical equipment. There have been more sub 4.4 40s this year than I can recall. That’s no coincidence. Bolton is a 4.6-4.7 LB. He’s not slow but not fast. I really don’t think Bolton fits the Bucs mold. I do think he will be good but there are better buc fits. Davis looks more like what the bucs are afer.

  35. Hope springs eternal Says:

    I don’t follow the college games but a stud line backer who can both tackle and pass defend with speed and power would be fine at 32. So would be a bad ass DE or DT. The offense is loaded. Play makers on defense should be top priority.

  36. TOM Says:

    It boils down to who’s available worth taking or trade down.