Raiders Draft: LB Nick Bolton Would Bolster Run Defense

The Las Vegas Raiders currently have a promising linebacker corps and new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will surely get the most out of the unit. Still, they could use some long-term help, and Missouri’s Nick Bolton could provide just that.

The Raiders’ defense as a whole was a disaster in 2020. It was so bad that they finally relieved Paul Guenther of his duties. With Gus Bradley taking the reigns this season, there will be an emphasis on the front seven. The defensive line will need to generate pressure and get to opposing quarterbacks. As far as the linebackers, they’ll need to do their part in helping stop the run by breaking up running lanes and stopping running backs in the backfield. Nick Bolton’s exploits in the run game could serve Bradley and the Silver Black very well.

As a team, the Raiders gave up a total of 2,013 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns to their 2020 opponents. While surrendering an average of 4.6 yards per carry, the defense allowed 114 first down conversions on the ground. Being 30th in the NFL in rushing touchdowns given up means there’s plenty of work to do. Bolton received a 79.8 run defense grade by Pro Football Focus, so he can definitely help in that department. The six-foot, 232-pound linebacker totaled 538 snaps in the box last year but also had 32 along the defensive line.

The Raiders should strongly consider Bolton

Bolton’s ability to recognize run plays and hunt down ball carriers from sideline to sideline is his biggest strength. He might no be the most athletic or naturally gifted linebacker but he has a high motor and shows no quit in stopping the run. However, he’s not a one-trick pony either, he can get to quarterbacks as well. Over the last three seasons, Bolton accumulated four sacks, 12 passes defensed, and 17.5 tackles for a loss. PFF also graded Bolton’s pass-rushing capabilities at 75.9 for last year alone.

Considering Bradley’s resume in the linebacker department, Bolton could become someone special under his tutelage. More importantly, the Raiders might be able to land the Missouri product after the first round so that’s another positive.

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*Top Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images

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