With the recent news surrounding LB Kyle Van Noy, many eyes are now on the Miami Dolphins’ linebacker core, and many think the position group needs to be strengthened this offseason. Jerome Baker and Andrew Van Ginkel are solid and improving yearly, but one more addition could take the Dolphins’ linebacker room to the next level.

Missouri LB Nick Bolton could very well be that player for Dolphins if they select him in this year’s draft. The 6’0″ 232 lbs. prospect could make an immediate impact at the professional level due to his linear explosiveness and nose for the football. Bolton brings a lot of physicality to the table and is a heavy hitter. LB Elandon Roberts was a fan favorite last season due to his physicality in the run game, especially in those short-yardage situations. Bolton brings a very similar energy that fans are sure to love. The Missouri standout has great burst and acceleration, which equips him to fill gaps and shed blocks instantly, as he is constantly going towards the action. Bolton also brings value as a pass rusher, as he was able to get consistent pressure on the quarterback whenever he blitzed. Coach Brain Flores loves to use his linebackers in many different ways, and Flores could definitely utilize a player like Bolton in his scheme.

Bolton was a star in Missouri’s defense and demonstrated a lot of leadership skills along with his explosive play, but like any young player entering the NFL, Bolton can improve. In the passing game, Bolton does well in zone coverage because he can dive in on shorter routes and burst out to the flat, but in man-to-man coverage, Bolton has difficulty keeping pace with skill players who move well laterally. Bolton has phenomenal linear speed but still needs improvement in sideline-to-sideline movements. Sometimes there is a better angle to take that Bolton does not see, and he tends to shoot gaps to make big plays that have the potential to end costly. However, there is a ton of optimism that as Bolton matures, these habits will fade away. The current Dolphins coaching staff has shown multiple times that they can develop players, and they can do the same with Bolton’s game.

Bolton is projected to be drafted in the late first-round or early second round. If the Dolphins want to select him, they would have the opportunity with the 18th pick or with one of their second-round picks if he is still available. If the Dolphins do draft the Missouri standout, fans can expect an explosive player that loves contact who can make an impact instantly.