Links to similar discussions on other positions:
We asked our staff to make a call on a linebacker. Who will surprise - either good or bad? Here are their answers.
Nick Bolton will finish as a top-10 linebacker.
He is coming off of a fantastic rookie year where he dropped 112 total tackles and 11 tackles for a loss. More impressively is that he did all of this playing on only 60% of the team's defensive snaps. When he did get volume, he flourished, though. In the six games in which he played at least 75% of the team's snaps, he racked up 58 tackles, almost 10 per game. His 112 tackles in 623 snaps was good for an 18% tackle efficiency, a very impressive number.
Bolton graded out incredibly in run defense, grading out at 75.4, with an 83.6 tackle grade. The Chiefs let middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens go, and Tyrann Mathieu and Daniel Sorrenson, who played a lot in the box in 2021, moved to new teams. There should be ample opportunity for Bolton to improve his already impressive numbers.
Denzel Perryman will back up last year's breakout and again finish inside the top-12 linebackers.
This shouldn't even be a flag plant after Perryman topped 150 total tackles and 100 solos last year on the way to a Pro Bowl nod and top-10 IDP numbers. But many in the fantasy community (including some of my colleagues here at Footballguys) have seemingly written off Perryman's big year as a fluke. Perryman's previous career high in tackles indeed was 73. And he has had durability issues in the past. But Perryman is also a former first-round pick who (from all indications) will call the defensive plays again in 2022. The reports of Perryman's IDP death have been greatly exaggerated—or at least that's what Mark Twain told me.
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