With two players selected in the first round, it’s safe to say that this year NFL Draft was a success for the Miami Hurricanes defense. While a repeat looks unlikely next year, a Hurricanes player received early attention in the first round. Can Miami safety Bubba Bolden be a potential first-round prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft? Let’s take a look at his first reconnaissance report to find out.
Bubba Bolden NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Security
- School: Miami
- Current year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’3 ″
- Weight: 204 lbs
Bubba Bolden Scouting Report
Bolden was a highly regarded high school rookie, and his performances in Miami earned him special attention in the upcoming NFL Draft class. So what does his scouting report tell us about his ability to bring this to the next level?
At 6’3 ″ and 204 pounds, Bolden has an excellent height in a safe position. More impressive than its height / weight profile is its length. Bolden has impressive length, and while we haven’t yet seen him use that to devastating effect in coverage, he’s shown he can use it to wrap up as a tackler. He’s a big hitter as well, although there are a few issues we’ll get to shortly.
The combination of size and length makes for an exceptional athletic profile. While Bolden isn’t the fastest defensive back in the 2022 NFL Draft class, he has exceptional short-distance speed, covering ground effortlessly. This is especially evident when it comes to flying downhill with a goal. This outburst and a remarkable ability to change direction make him a dangerous proposition as a blitzer.
Where versatility increasingly becomes the best ability, Bolden will be incredibly valuable to the NFL level. He has experience in deep play, in the box and in the slot machine. In addition, he has a history of excellence in special teams. In addition, the senior redshirt demonstrates solid football intelligence, reading and diagnosing the game and making his way to the ball.
Areas of improvement
While Bolden’s athletic profile, physique, and versatility make him an attractive prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft, there are areas for improvement.
Although he is an executor and shows his ability to conclude as a tackler, this is where he has to show the most development this year. Bolden often takes bad angles as a tackler. This leads to too many instances of him grabbing the air with his target escaping his claws.
While he’s had a huge impact as a tackle, he can elevate his NFL draft stock by making more plays in the passing game. While stats shouldn’t be a big factor in the assessment, Bolden’s lack of pass breakouts in his career is evidenced by an absence of impressive plays on the ball in pass coverage.
History of injuries and inexperience are not areas for improvement. However, as part of a comprehensive assessment, these are factors that must be taken into consideration. Bolden is in his fifth season out of high school, but has only started 10 career games. The ankle injury was a freak accident, so it shouldn’t be a problem, although NFL teams will want to make sure there isn’t any lasting damage before the 2022 NFL Draft.
Bolden player profile
Bolden’s journey to the 2022 NFL Draft contained every ups and downs imaginable. Awards, injuries and suspensions have all played their part, but its footballing origins are rooted in one of the most successful high school programs in the country. A native of Las Vegas, Bolden played his high school football at the high school dominating Bishop Gorman, where he contributed to three consecutive national championships.
“Contributor” downplays Bolden’s influence on Bishop Gorman’s success. Even in his sophomore year, he turned heads with 30 tackles while demonstrating his playmaking skills with an interception. During his junior season, Bolden established himself as one of the best defensive backs in the country. The four-star prospect was seventh security in the recruiting class of 2017 and got offers from over 20 college programs. Making an early decision in a wild recruiting race, he enlisted at USC after his junior campaign.
It was a decision Bolden was going to calm down, leaving his recruiting open ahead of his senior season. 2016 was the most successful season of the young security’s career in high school. Bolden has 27 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 7 interceptions and 2 breakouts. In addition, he showed the ability of special teams with a blocked basket.
Bolden ended his Bishop Gorman career as a multi-point All-American first team and was named USA Today All-Nevada Defensive Player of the Year. By the end of his senior year, he had curtailed his college future at Ohio State, Arizona State, and USC. With several high school teammates (including Tate Martell) committed to the Buckeyes, he was expected to follow suit. Still, Bolden announced his re-engagement with USC and signed up with the Trojans.
Bolden’s introduction to college football was similar to that of most high school rookies. While he was successful at Bishop Gorman, he needed a period of adjustment before he could advance to a starting role in USC high school. He saw playing time in 13 games during his freshman campaign, however, registering 8 tackles. After impressing in his debut season, many expected him to become a starter for 2018.
Bolden never lined up as a starter for the 2018 USC Trojans. Following his involvement in a party that saw minors drinking, talking about trash, and suspected threatening behavior, USC hit on the youngster. security with a 28-month ban from the program. Absent from the team’s depth roster to start the season, Bolden eventually separated from the program later in the year and reportedly enrolled in junior college. He posted a statement on social media expressing remorse for his involvement.
“My behavior at the party did not reflect my character that my family, friends, teammates and many others admire, and I am so sorry for that. I am 100% committed to ensuring that the lessons that I learned on and off the pitch take me to the next level.
Bolden transfers to Miami for 2019 season
Sometimes in 2018, the next level seemed like a distant dream for Bolden. Still, a move to Miami would give him an opportunity for redemption and rebirth. Due to transfer regulations, he is expected to miss the first four games of the season, delaying his ability to impact the Hurricanes’ defensive backfield.
Once he found the land in South Florida, Bolden showed why he had been such a beloved rookie. He made his debut against Virginia Tech, recording 2 tackles. Miami DB continued with their first breakup against Virginia a week later. Bolden’s performances earned him his first start against Pitt, where he displayed his disruptive tendencies with a forced fumble.
In seconds against Florida State, Bolden once again experienced the roller coaster of college football emotions. The young goalie managed an interception on an inclined pass, the first of his career. While celebrating the turnover with a teammate, he leaped up and landed awkwardly on his right ankle, causing an end-of-season dislocation.
Despite the small volume of work in his first season, expectations were high for Bolden in 2020
The senior redshirt did not disappoint in 2020. While his teammate Jaelan phillips was raising his NFL draft stock, Bolden provided solid production from high school. In nine starts, he had 74 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception and 4 forced fumbles.
His performances have earned him several ACC Defensive Back of the Week awards. The first came against Louisville, where he terrorized the Cardinals offensive with 11 tackles, 1 forced fumble and a loss tackle. Even in a heavy loss to Clemson, his 10 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 2 blocked goals from the field were enough to secure the honor. In addition, he was a semi-finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and received All-ACC recognition for the second team.
Although Bolden is eligible for this year’s NFL draft, the young safety opted to return to Miami. In doing so, it positions itself as one of the best class 2022 safeties. There are areas for development, but Bolden has the athletic tools to deserve early attention next spring.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.