Bolden comes in a Cedric Benson mold in more ways than one.
They both run identical 40-yard dash times and stand at 5'11". Bolden weighs within five pounds of Benson at 222, and like Benson, also comes with a bonehead warning and a history that includes a suspension among other negative headlines.
With all that said, this is a talented ball-carrier. He never carried the ball more than 163 times in his four years at Ole Miss, but he also never dipped below 4.8 yards a carry.
In 2010, statistically his best season, Bolden collected 17 total touchdowns and nearly broke 1,000 yards while carrying a 6.0-yards-per-carry average.
What the experts are saying
NFL.com wraps up Bolden's major strengths:
Bolden is a powerful runner who will usually run through the first defender. He is decisive to hit the hole as an inside runner and is patient for his blocks to develop. 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.
And in the interest of balance, ProFootballWeekly offers up its take on his weaknesses:
Runs harder than he does powerfully. Ordinary hip strength and flexibility—not a robust tackle breaker. Average initial quickness and elusiveness (confirmed in RB-worst 4.49-second 20-yard shuttle at Combine). Could stand to improve as a blocker. Is immature and needs to learn what it means to be a pro. Character needs to be investigated.
Projected Rookie Impact
Bolden is lucky to play a position of such value that his character concerns shouldn't disqualify him from snaps and carries in 2012.
The running back position is one of major attrition, and if his lucky streak continues, he could fall into more work in the right scenario, as a result of injuries on the depth chart in New England.
What's more likely, however, is that Bolden will be rotated in until he proves he deserves more responsibility. This is absolutely a player who could step in and have an immediate impact in 2012 given the right circumstances.
It's been a while since New England has had this much youth and tremendous potential at the running back position—just seeing how the snaps and carries are divvied up should be mighty interesting.