Nick Bolton, who was one of the top tacklers in the SEC in 2019 and 2020, met and worked out with Steelers inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky at Missouri’s pro day.
Bolton said Olsavsky gave him advice on “what he felt like was a positive for me, what I need to work on. He helped me get a little better today.”
Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert and Olsavsky spent the better part of an hour on zoom last week, discussing the Steelers scheme and their analysis of him as a player. Bolton is a fiery player, and they
“The biggest advice from [Tomlin] was stop being so hard on myself,” Bolton said. “I’m my biggest critic, and it kind of shows.”
Bolton is 5-foot-11, 237 pounds and ran his 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds, the rare combination of physical play and athleticism that’s crucial to playing the inside linebacker position in today’s NFL.
“I ran faster than I think people anticipated me, so I feel like that’s a positive,” Bolton said.
Projected as a first or second round pick, Bolton has received a lot of interest from NFL teams.
“I talked to numerous teams, nearly all of them,” Bolton said.
The Steelers are one of those teams, and inside linebacker is a need for them since Vince Williams became a cap casualty. The Steelers linebacker tandems in recent years have shown a mix of sideline to sideline speed and aggressive, run stopping physicality, as evidenced by Williams’ consistent play next to rangy players like Ryan Shazier and Devin Bush.
Bolton can lay the wood, and would be a good yin to Bush’s yang in black and gold.
“The best thing I love about football is the physicality,” Bolton said. “I like to hit, I like to run, I like to be physical.”
His speedy 40 time, however, shows that he can be more than just a run stopping grinder.
Bolton said he’s used to playing zone coverage because of the Tigers defensive scheme. However, he can play man to man if needed, which is crucial in the modern NFL with mismatches from speedy tight ends and receivers out of the backfield a huge part of the game.
“I didn’t play that much man on man on tight ends or running backs this season,” Bolton said. “I like to play man to man coverage, but we played primarily zone this year.”