If you didn't watch the Under Armour game, you missed one of the better performances in the game by Joe. He was flying all over the field and making tackles. He showed that he has great sideline to sideline speed and is a phenomenal tackler. Joe is a good pass rusher, can play out in coverage, and can stop the run. His 230 pounds is good size, but look for him to put on a bit of weight because he does struggle a bit in shedding blocks. Playing in the Big 10 conference he is going to go up against big monster offensive linemen so whether it's using his speed to beat blockers or actually shedding them off once they make contact, it's something that he will need to improve on. Joe has had the privilege of enrolling early and it has helped him big time. Coach Hoke has praised Joe on a couple of occasions already and in terms of the freshmen, he is already standing out. I think that he will continue to improve now that fall camp is upon us and they are practicing in full pads. He's got some outstanding talent and should be very key as time moves on.
Here are the basic stats on Bolden:
So in looking at the charts, the scouts pretty much tend to agree in their analysis of Joe. He's a 4* player across the board, even accounting for the difference projections in his position. He even cracked the famed ESPN150, showing the caliber of Joe's talent. From what the sites have listed, he is 6'3" and 225 pounds. Everyone seemed to praise Joe for his speed and tackling ability. Stating that he enjoys contact and is a very sound tackler. I noticed comparisons to Paul Posluzny, the former Penn State Linebacker. Pretty good conversation for Joe to be included in. Paul was dominant in college and has done decent in the NFL, but was definitely a game changer for Penn State. The one "gripe" of the scouts is his defense in the run game and shedding blocks. With Michigan's emphasis on stopping the run, I think his ability to stop the run will improve as well. Joe's got a good frame to put on some weight so look for a few pounds and he can be a big time all-around linebacker.
It's been noted that Joe is one of the top freshmen performers so far. He has definitely benefited from enrolling early and I think that the sky is the limit for him. As far as being an impact freshman, it seems almost a lock that Joe will see the field in 2012. He has improved drastically in the spring and is bringing a lot of talent to Michigan's linebacker corps. Will he start? Probably not since Kenny Demens is already the solidified starter at middle linebacker, but I do think that Joe can challenge him for that spot and get some serious playing time.
On top of this, the significant time that Joe appears likely to play will pay dividends down the line. Demens will graduate after this season, leaving a hole at middle linebacker. Joe should be pretty experienced by then and the drop-off at the position should be very slight, if there is even a drop-off at all. This is obviously a long time off, but it gets pretty easy to see the massive potential for Joe down the line. He's an outstanding talent and fits in quite well with Michigan's current and future depth. Remember his name because you should be hearing it early and often from now on.
Here's his highlight film: