He has had team suspension issues in the past, and sometimes looks undisciplined in his play. Once he has the ball in his hands, however, he is a smooth and effective runner who is a fourth-round talent capable of breaking a big play on any touch.
He can get low and hide behind blockers before sticking his foot in the ground to either move hard laterally or up the field to burst through to the second level. He looks good when initiating a hard drop step to bounce outside, and once there can outrun defenders to the perimeter. Bolden is reliable both in taking care of the ball and gaining yards with power or speed.
He won't however, with NFL scouts. Quite frankly, he shouldn't with fans and the media, either, especially considering his breakout junior campaign in which he rushed for 976 yards, caught 32 passes for 344 yards and scored 17 touchdowns, tying former New Orleans Saints' standout Deuce McAllister for the most in school history.
An all-purpose back strong enough to churn out the tough yardage inside, as well as beat defenders to the edge, Bolden is one of the top senior backs in the country and a potential Top 100 prospect for the 2012 NFL draft.
Inside: Good size and strength as an interior runner. A bit indecisive. Will attack the hole when he sees it, but too often bounces it outside, looking for the 40 yard run when sometimes he should be satisfied with getting the four. Runs low with good knee bend through the hole, but stands up as gets to the second level, exposing himself (and the ball) to hits. Willing to lower his shoulder and shows good leg drive to get the tough yards, but doesn't always play with the physicality you're looking for. Has good vision and shows some lateral agility to elude, though he isn't a nifty back capable of making defenders miss in tight quarters.
Outside: Doesn't wow you with his speed to the edge, but has sneaky speed to and around the corner, consistently beating linebackers to the spot. Can plant his foot in the ground and accelerate quickly. Capitalizes on lanes when they're there and shows more burst and the straight-line speed to pull away than you'd expect for a back of his size (LSU).
Breaking Tackles: Runs hot and cold in this area. Is a powerfully built back (especially in his upper body) who can lower his shoulder and bring the boom to run through would-be tacklers. Also has a stiff-arm and a spin move to slip past defenders. At his best when near the goal-line, as he seems to be a more determined runner and keeps his legs churning upon contact. Doesn't always seem to play with the same intensity, however, and appears to have only average balance, overall.
Blocking: Does a serviceable job as a pass blocker. Was often asked to stay in and provide a chip block with a running threat in Jeremiah Masoli at quarterback last year. Recognizes the blitz and steps up to it, though rather than physically taking on and controlling the pass rusher, Bolden often will drive low, taking out the legs. His blocks are usually effective, but high-effort pass rushers can beat him with quick hands or simply by picking themselves up after the initial block to get back into the play.
Receiving: Among his better skills. Shows soft hands out of the backfield and the flexibility to turn his body, receive the swing/screen pass and accelerate with no wasted motion. Shows some versatility as a route-runner, including the ability to challenge down the sideline on the wheel route.
Intangibles: Received the Jeff Hamm Award for Most Outstanding Offensive Player during spring (2011) drills. Served as a gunner on punt coverage in 2010. Bolden requested a grade from the NFL Advisory Committee after his junior season but elected to return for his senior season after receiving a Day Three grade."
Doesn’t run with a great pad level inside, lowers his pads into contact, but when trying to make his way through traffic he can be brought down rather easily at times by defenders because he exposes a lot of his frame, struggling to run low center of gravity and maintain balance.
Displays some shiftiness with his footwork in tight areas. Can side step defenders at times in a phone booth and demonstrates the power to run through a tackle and accelerate into the open field. Isn’t a burner and doesn’t have a great initial burst, but displays adequate play speed for the position.
Not real fluid/shifty in space. Struggles to make defenders miss once they square up on him, has a tendency to put his head down and simply try to outrun the angle, but doesn’t have the explosion/speed to do so. Possesses an average feel inside picking his way through traffic, but doesn’t necessarily read his blocks well between the tackles.
Looks for a lane initially, if it’s not there has a tendency to look to bounce the ball outside too quickly as he isn’t overly patient. Possesses the frame to hold up in pass protection and shows the willingness/toughness to help chip on the outside. Feels the screen game well, adjusts to the football and can pluck off his frame. Is above-average catching the football in the pass game, but isn’t a real nifty route runner.
Impression: A tough, productive SEC back who runs hard and can be effective when there are lanes to run through. Isn’t going to create on his own in the NFL and isn’t dynamic in any area of the game. Looks like a No. 3 back at the next level."
Is a good-sized, well-defined, upright, hard-charging runner.
Cuts to daylight and finishes runs, though he lacks elite top-end speed and quickness and is not very elusive.
Runs harder than he does powerfully and has inconsistent hands.
Character needs to be investigated."
Squat 225-pounder with great leg strength and drive; has good vision and makes crisp cuts into the hole; keeps pads and doesn’t go down easily; also a good short yardage and goal-line runner who scored 14 times last fall;
Better than advertised receiver who had 32 catches last season; not all that quick or fast, though, and doesn’t break off many big plays."