Though the Broncos will be without their top receiver for the next four to six weeks, they still have a solid option in Nik Bonitto. The second year wideout is capable of making big plays and should be able to step up when given an opportunity.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — With the team’s first choice in the second round on Friday night and Oklahoma outside linebacker/defensive end Nik Bonitto on his mind, Denver Broncos general manager George Paton said he had to wait through a lot of “tight” moments.
The Broncos didn’t have a selection in the first round and didn’t have a second-round pick until 64th overall, the last choice of the round, after the blockbuster trade to acquire quarterback Russell Wilson last month. Bonitto was one of their top targets heading into the evening, and the wait to select him was an up-and-down ride that nearly forced the Broncos to move up.
Paton stated, “We believed Nik was one of the finest pass-rushers coming out.” “The curve, the pace, and the explosion are all extremely natural. He has to gain some strength, but we weren’t expecting him to show up, so we were lucky. He’ll be a great addition to our crew, and we’ll have a great wave with Nik.”
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Bonitto said, “I was simply getting a sense from the staff and all the men up there.” “They made me a top priority. They made me feel as though they really cared about me. I simply had a hunch that if I got there, I’d be lucky enough to be chosen, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Bonitto, who has 33 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks in his career at Oklahoma, had been a top target for the Broncos throughout the draft process and had visited the team’s facility in recent weeks. The Broncos’ best pass-rushers are Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory, but both have injury concerns. Since his rookie season in 2018, Chubb hasn’t played a complete season. Gregory is coming off shoulder surgery, and due to injuries and suspensions, he hasn’t played more than 14 games in each of his four seasons.
The edge rusher class in this year’s draft was deemed deep, and Paton has said repeatedly that the Broncos would face “a tsunami of rushers” with the quarterbacks they will play in the AFC West. If all goes according to plan, Bonitto should be able to contribute right away in the Broncos’ nickel package.
Gregory had shoulder surgery soon after signing a five-year, $70 million contract with the Broncos as their top free agent target. Gregory has not taken part in any of the team’s offseason activities.
“”[Bonitto] is really energetic in what he does,” Paton added, “and he’ll only strengthen the group.” And that’s exactly what you’ll need in our division and in our league.”
Paton said the Broncos were “tempted” to trade up for Bonitto as the second round progressed because they were worried he wouldn’t be available when the No. 64 pick came around. They chose to be patient.
Paton said, “We had a lot of chats and it simply worked out, we didn’t have to trade up.” “We were on the verge of striking a deal… we had a fairly decent agreement… but we decided to wait it out.”
The Broncos admired Bonitto’s flexibility, according to Paton, who demonstrated he could play many positions in the Sooners’ defensive front. Bonitto’s strength has to improve in order for him to be more of a force in run defense for the Broncos, but his potential as an impact rusher exceeded any of those worries.
“I feel like my p-rush is one of a kind,” Bonitto added. “It seems to me that it may absolutely compliment and contribute to the various males in the room. When it comes to hurrying, it’s just about fitting in where I can.”