Scouting Report and Q&A with DB Isaiah Bolden | Washington Commanders
Updated: Apr 6
By Adam Aniba
This year's cornerback class features blue chip end talent from some of the top schools in the nation. Although Jackson State hasn't been known to pump out NFL talent, defensive back Isaiah Bolden opened the eyes during his recent pro day with his speed and athleticism.
Recently the USFL Draft took place (2/23/23) and Bolden was selected in the 2nd round 11th overall by the Memphis Showboats His dream has been to follow his father Juran Bolden's footsteps, who was drafted by the Falcons in the 4th rd 127th overall in the '96 NFL Draft.
6'2" 0 lbs | DB | JSU
Proj 4th Rd Grade
Career FSU (9 games) 10 TAK (5 solo),1 INTs & 2 PD
*KR- 6 att for 156 yds (26.0 yds per ret)
Career JSU (26 games) 55 TAK (38 solo), 1 FR, 2.5 TFL & 8 PD
*KR- 26 att for 851 yds and 2 TDs (32.7 yds per ret)
2022 (13 games) 44 TAK (30 solo), 1 FR, 2.5 TFL & 7 PD
*KR- 10 att for 260 yds (26.0 yds per ret)
Bolden grew up in Tampa, FL attending Wesley Chapel HS and was was a dual sport athlete in football and track. In fact, Bolden won the regional championships in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash on the track team and qualified for the 3A State Championship, winning the bronze medal in the 100-meter dash during his senior year.
On the football field, Bolden lined up at outside cornerback, nickelback, safety and also at kick & punt returner. As a senior, he took 90-yard interception to the house and also recorded a 93-yard punt return for score.
Bolden was ranked as a 4-star prospect and the 25th ranked cornerback in the 2018 recruiting class. He was invited to the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl for his play.
Bolden was recruited by multiple D1 football programs and ultimately chose Florida State. In '18, he made his collegiate debut vs. Samford, which would be the only game he was active in for the season. The Wesley Chapel defensive back primarily worked with the scout team and redshirted during the 2018 season.
In 2019 Bolden played in all 13 games, making his first career start vs Arizona State in the Sun Bowl. He recorded his first career interception in the season opener vs Boise State. On the season Bolden recorded 9 tackles, 1 interception and 2 pass breakups. On special teams he returned 6 kickoffs for 156 yards and 1 punt for 7 yards.
Bolden transferred to Jackson State the following season, as Deion Sanders accepted the head coaching position. Bolden would suit up in three games making 3 tackles, 1 pass defended and 1 PR for 63 yards.
In '21 Bolden played in 10 games at multiple spots in the defensive backfield (8 tackles on the season), but primarily shined on the return unit for Sanders. The FSU transfer led the nation (both FBS and FCS) in kickoff return average at 36.9 per return attempt and tied for the FCS lead with 2 kicks returned for touchdowns. Bolden also had 7 punt returns (10.1 yards per return average).
After Bolden's pro day, he had the following to say when asked to provide thoughts on his performance and NFL aspirations.
“I came in here to do what I had to do. I am hearing that I will be drafted anywhere from the 3rd to 5th round.”
Tale of the Tape
Ceiling to be an elite kick/punt returner on the next level
Versatility jumps out with experience playing the slot, outside and safety
Although proficient in man, speed and instincts aid him in zone coverage
Extremely long and athletic, excels in jump ball 50/50 situations
Aggressive vs the run with an attack mentality
Displayed the ability to mirror receivers, QB's would often shy away from his side of the field
Q&A with Isaiah
*Were you surprised when you were drafted by the USFL’s Memphis Showboats 11th overall?
"Yes I was, but I’m blessed for the opportunity if needed (if the NFL doesn't pan out)."
*What led to your decision to transfer from Florida State to Jackson State?
"I believed in coach prime and the people of Jackson."
*Your background and success as a returner is well documented and should entice NFL teams, do you enjoy playing special teams?
"I love returning the ball as well as being a lockdown corner."
*What aspect of your game do you feel separates you from other draft prospects?
"I'm a versatile player on defense and an elite returner with tons of upside."
*What was the best part about playing for Coach Deion Sanders?
"Just building a genuine relationship."
*What do you feel an NFL team will be getting when they draft you?
"I'm a player who's ready to work and contribute right away. I'm humble with any role assigned to me."
The Florida State transfer displayed his elite physical attributes and speed during his recent pro day. Bolden ran a 4.31 second 40-yard dash, which would have been the 3rd best time if he participated in this year's NFL Combine.
After the season wrapped up, Bolden was invited to play in the FBS NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and shined, displaying his upside in zone coverage. On the game's first series, Bolden was in zone and responsible for a portion of the field. He broke up the play in the endzone, which was attributed to his ability to read and react after playing the out-route.
Although Bolden enjoys mixing it up in man coverage, he's equally talented when in zone. The Jackson State defensive back has the positional versatility to line up in the slot, outside, safety and has the ceiling to be a dynamic returner.
Bolden has risen up draft boards after his pro day, he should continue to see his stock rise with individual workouts over the next 2-3 weeks. The lack of turnovers is the prime reason he's viewed as a day 3 prospect. In saying that, the team that selects Bolden will have the liberty to be creative with him on defensie and also have a plug & play returner.
Often times it takes an impressive pro day for NFL teams to take a deeper dive into HBCU/Small School prospects. Bolden has the elite mesurables and speed that NFL teams covet, which could translate into a 3rd round selection if he continues to impress during the evaluation process.
*Games Watched- 9/10/12 vs Tenn. ST., 9/17 vs Grambling, 10/15 vs Bethune-Cookman, 11/12 vs ALA A&M, 11/19 vs Alcorn & 12/3 vs Southern
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