The dynamic duo in the middle of the Chiefs’ defense will have a lot to prove this season, are they up to the task?
Nick Bolton had a PFF grade of 72.5 last season, which is the highest by a rookie linebacker since 2006. Bolton was considered an undersized linebacker but his extinct to get to the ball carrier and explosiveness when tackling separates him from many linebackers in the league. Even with the limited snaps, he had this year, you could see the growth and development throughout the season which made KC comfortable with letting veteran linebacker Anthony Hitchens go. Bolton’s style of play will be effective in this Chiefs defense because KC’s run defense has been one of the worst for a couple of seasons. But with his great tackling ability and play awareness, Bolton could potentially be one of the best linebackers in the Chiefs’ history. Many are excited to see this young man’s ability and with Willie Gay playing alongside his side, this could be one of the most dynamic duos in the league.
Willie Gay had a total of 48 combined tackles this season, two interceptions, and a sack. His energy on the field lifts his teammates and he will have a chance this year to be more vocal with the former Chiefs safety heading to another team this off-season and being the only veteran presence on this young linebacking core. Gay is one of the better pass defending linebackers in this league, being able to move east and west and having the quickness at his size to cover running backs out the backfield. Even though he dealt with some injuries the past couple of seasons, KC has done well with giving this young stud some time to heal and putting him in positions to succeed in this defense. With the athleticism he possesses, Gay and Bolton could potentially be one of the better linebackers duos this upcoming season and at their age, the Chiefs’ defense on the second level will be set for years to come.
The Chiefs were able to add Jermaine Carter this offseason, who started for the Panthers last season playing all 17 games. He led the team in tackles and with the addition to this young Chiefs linebacking group, KC feel their at an advantage and better from what they were last year. It’s exciting to see where this group will be next season, but everyone’s wish will be coming true, as we will have a chance to see more of Bolton and Gay on the field causing havoc and bringing life back to this defense that has been missing that presence since losing all-time Chiefs leading tackler Derrick Johnson. These guys have huge shoes to fill, but they are more capable to step up to the task.