CBS linebacker ranking lists Nick Bolton among NFL’s best

On Monday, CBS Sports writer Jordan Dajani gave readers a ranking of the NFL’s top 20 linebackers for the coming season. And despite having missed a significant number of 2023 games, Dajani decided that the Kansas City Chiefs’ MIKE linebacker Nick Bolton deserved to be listed among the league’s best.

Nick Bolton • Kansas City Chiefs

Bolton missed nine games last season, and I still think he’s underrated. In 2022, Bolton recorded 180 combined tackles (second among all players), two sacks and three passes defensed to go along with two interceptions. He could have won Super Bowl MVP in the win over the Philadelphia Eagles, as he recorded nine combined tackles and a fumble recovery he took back for a touchdown. Now, he’s in a contract year, so expect big things in 2024.


After his rookie season, many Kansas City fans expected Bolton would consistently be listed among the league’s best linebackers. But it hasn’t always played out that way. Going into 2023, Pro Football Focus ranked Bolton 11th, placing him in a third tier they described as “really solid players.” After his injury-shortened season, PFF listed him as 14th for 2024. Dajani, however, placed Bolton 10th in this same ranking a year ago — and then moved him up for the coming season.

For my money, this is the right way to see Bolton: a player who made a great impression as a rookie, backed it up in his second year and continued to rise (despite injuries) in his third. With a full, uninjured season in 2024, I expect Kansas City will carefully consider whether his rookie contract should be extended.

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