The Denver Broncos selected Oklahoma edge rusher Nik Bonitto with their 64th overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. They recently traded away Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller and were looking to bolster their edge rushing unit during the draft, and they hoped they did that here with the selection of Bonitto.
However, it ended up being a fairly quiet rookie year for Bonitto. He flashed his quickness off the snap at times, but despite multiple injuries at the edge rushing position and a trade of Bradley Chubb, he failed to take advantage of that opportunity. Coming out of college, his weakness against the run and setting the edge was a concern and we saw that be a thing last season. With that said, he was a rookie and now is in the midst of his first full offseason so we will hopefully see some growth.
Nik Bonitto (#42) played 42 snaps Sunday versus the Jags.— Full-Time Dame (@DP_NFL) November 1, 2022
He came away with a sack, QB hit, and forced a fumble off the bench!
The youth at the edge positions made Chubb expendable! #BroncosCountry pic.twitter.com/xXRtHw9zYu
Bonitto, like the rest of the Broncos' edge rushers, has a number of questions that need to be answered as we head into the summer. However, if he can show growth and improvement as a player this summer, the Broncos' defense will look even better on paper than it already does.
Weight: 240 pounds
40-time: 4.54 seconds
Experience: 2nd year player
Age: 23 years old(will turn 24 in September)
Bonitto played in 15 games and had 1 start and totaled 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 tackle for a loss, and 3 quarterback hits.
Nik Bonitto’s 2023 outlook
Bonitto will be one of the more interesting players to watch as we progress through the offseason and into training camp and the preseason. His pass-rush ability is there, he just needs to continue to develop, get stronger and grow as a player. If he does that, the Broncos pass rushing unit looks a helluva a lot better than it does right now.
I am not sure that Bonitto will ever be a good run defender or set the edge consistently, but that was known coming out of college. However, if he can flourish as a pass-rush specialist, that would be huge for the Broncos. His first step, bend, and explosiveness are undeniable, I think he just needs to get stronger and develop more as a pass rusher. If he can do that, I think he can be an impactful player on the Broncos' defense this upcoming season.
Barring injuries, I think Bonito will be a situational pass rusher and rotate in behind Randy Gregory and Baron Browning. There are injury concerns there with both so Bonitto could once again find himself with an opportunity to get meaningful snaps again this upcoming season.
I am really hoping we see an improvement from Bonitto this upcoming season. The explosiveness, first step, and pass-rushing abilities are there. He just needs to continue to develop and add some more strength to his core and lower half. If the Broncos' new strength and conditioning team can help him do that, that would be significant for him.
I am not too concerned about his run-stopping ability because that is not his game. If he can improve there, great, if not, that is okay. You drafted him to get after the passer and he needs to do that more consistently this upcoming season. I am cautiously optimistic that he will do that but again, we shall see.
How many sacks do you see Nik Bonitto having this upcoming season?
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