Wednesday marks the final day NFL teams are allowed to bring draft prospects in for Top-30 visits, and the New England Patriots are indeed active. They are hosting cornerback and return specialist Isaiah Bolden, as first reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The 23-year-old projects as either a late-round pick or a rookie free agent.
A former four-star recruit, Bolden started his college career at Florida State before eventually transferring to Jackson State in 2020. In his five total seasons between the two schools, he appeared in 40 games but served primarily as a rotational player: he has only 13 starts on his résumé, with 11 coming in his 2022 senior campaign.
Despite his lack of starter-level experience, Bolden is an intriguing prospect for one main reason: he is an impressive athlete.
While he was not invited to the Scouting Combine, he looked very good at the Jackson State Pro Day in late March. Measuring 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds, he ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash and 1.54-second 10-yard split, registered a 38-inch vertical jump, and had a 10-foot-9 broad jump. While his 4.63-second short shuttle disappointed, he still earned a 9.44 Relative Athletic Score — 15th best among all cornerback prospects this year.
While he is a project as a cornerback and likely needs some time to develop into a capable NFL player at the position, his foundational athleticism might prompt teams such as New England to invest in Bolden. If so, they would also get themselves a capable kick returner.
After all, he was the Division-I leader in kickoff return average in 2021 (36.9 yards/runback), scoring touchdowns of 94 and 91 yards. A year later, with increased playing time on defense, he still managed to average 26.0 yards on 10 kick returns.
The Patriots bringing him in makes sense for several reasons. They have a need at cornerback, for example, and might also want to limit Marcus Jones’ reps as a returner and possibly use him exclusively in the punt game. Additionally, Bolden was unable to do all drills at his Pro Day due to a hip injury; New England will likely use the visit to get an extra medical checkup done.
In total, Bolden is the 21st confirmed player to take a Top-30 visit with the Patriots this pre-draft cycle. Together with Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes he is one of only two cornerbacks on that list.