Denver Broncos select possible future of EDGE position in Nik Bonitto

Nik Bonitto. Credit: Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports.
Nik Bonitto. Credit: Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports.

At long last, the Denver Broncos have made a pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

About six hours into coverage — four hours on Thursday night, two hours on Friday — the Broncos took Nik Bonitto, an exceptional edge rusher out of Oklahoma.

Bonitto is a 6’3″ 248-pound redshirt junior from Fort Lauderdale, FL, who played his college ball at Oklahoma.

“This game is about the quarterbacks in this league,” head coach Nathaniel Hackett said per the Broncos team twitter. “If you can affect the quarterback — and there are some good quarterbacks in this west — so we gotta get after them. And he can rush.”

He’s smooth, fluid and fast. His pass rush around the edge is with speed, and that dip of his is superb. Shades of Von Miller, but of course, he has a long way to go to be a player of Miller’s caliber. Plus, Bonitto’s smart. The Sooners used him to spy opposing quarterbacks, which he did deftly. He was a second-team All-American in 2020 (33 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 9 sacks) and then third-team All-American last year (39 tackles, 15 TFL, 7 sacks).

At the NFL Scouting Combine, he ran a 4.54 40-yard dash, has a 35.5-inch vertical and incredibly impressive cone drill numbers, too. Bonitto continues the trend from last year’s NFL Draft — George Paton’s first as a GM — in which the Broncos took elite athletes. According to his RAS score, he was a 9.5 out of 10.

Denver needed depth at edge rusher despite having a dynamic duo of Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory, each of whom have been injured multiple times during their respective careers. Bonitto now has a chance to be the future at the position.

So, why’d it take so long for the Broncos to pick?

General manager George Paton traded away Denver’s first-round pick (as well as a 2nd and 5th this year, 1st and 2nd in 2023) to land superstar quarterback Russell Wilson. Many consider it to be the biggest trade in NFL History, and it makes the Broncos immediate, legitimate contenders for the AFC West and NFL crowns.

It even seemed like Denver may move back and pick up extra picks, but in the end, they must have felt great with Bonitto.

Update: The Broncos were scheduled to pick at No. 75 next, but traded with the Houston Texans, moving down to No. 80 and picked up No. 162 in the 5th round, too.

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