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Broncos roster review: Edge rusher Nik Bonitto

We’re kicking off our roster reviews this offseason with the Denver Broncos first pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, edge rusher Nik Bonitto.

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NFL: Denver Broncos Rookie Minicamp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos did not have a pick in the 2022 NFL Draft until the very end of the second round. With that 64th overall selection, general manager George Paton looked to fill a big need at edge rusher with Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto.

#42 Nik Bonitto
Age 22. 6’03”, 248 lbs.
College: Oklahoma

Bonitto fit the mold of a smaller framed, athletic type pass rusher. He relied on his superior athleticism and speed to make an impact in the pass rush. That is an ideal fit for the Broncos defense.

How he fits with the Broncos

With an explosive first step and an agile bendy frame, Bonitto serve as a Von Miller-like stand-up pass rusher. He’ll have the speed to beat offensive linemen around the edge and the quickness to counter move to beat them inside. I’m not saying he is Von Miller, but rather like Von Miller in the sense of how he rushes the passer.

He can get manhandled if the opposing lineman gets control of the block. As his Relative Athletic Score (RAS) shows, Bonitto will need to rely on the mismatch he has over lineman in pure athleticism.

Pro Football Focus also noted that Bonitto figures to be quite the draft day steal for the Broncos.

The 6-foot-3, 248-pound edge defender was one of the nation’s most productive pass-rushers over the last couple of years, and he is a high-level athlete. Since 2020, Bonitto ranks first among all FBS edge defenders in pass-rush grade (94.6), pass-rush win rate (27.8%) and pressure rate (22.2%). He may serve as a designated pass-rusher to start, but he can provide value in that role.

Nik Bonitto Highlights

Final word

All this suggests to me that while Bonitto may not burst onto the scene as a Day 1 starter like a Von Miller did, he could find himself with significant playing time in pass rush situations. Getting to the quarterback, outside of Von Miller’s production, has been an area of deficiency for this Broncos’ team for the last couple of years.

With the addition of Randy Gregory, a healthy Bradley Chubb, and rookie Nik Bonitto, we could see the fabled Orange Rush return to form a bit in 2022.


Will Nik Bonitto push for significant playing time as a rookie?

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