• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

2022 NFL draft scouting report: Oklahoma EDGE Nik Bonitto

·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Oklahoma EDGE Nik Bonitto

6-foot-3
248 pounds

Yahoo Sports' 2022 NFL draft grade

5.64 — possible third— or fourth-rounder; contributor potential

TL;DR scouting report

Smallish edge rusher supplies consistent pressure with athletic juice and a wicked spin move, but his strength just isn't great

The skinny

A 4-star Rivals recruit in the Class of 2018, Bonitto committed to the Sooners over Texas and Alabama, taking a redshirt as a freshman (three tackles in three games). In 2019, Bonitto played in all 14 games (starting the final seven) and made 43 tackles (6.5 TFLs), 3.5 sacks, one interception and five pass breakups. He started all 10 games in 2020, totaling 32 tackles (10.5 TFLs), eight sacks and two pass breakups.

Bonitto started the first 12 games in 2021, racking up 39 tackles (15.0 TFLs), seven sacks, one forced fumble, three recoveries (including a 70-yard return) and one pass breakup. He opted out of OU's bowl game and declared early for the 2022 NFL draft.

Oklahoma's Nik Bonitto is undersized but an effective pass rusher. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Oklahoma's Nik Bonitto is undersized but an effective pass rusher. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Upside

  • Decent length to make up for lack of bulk

  • Pro day, combine testing reveals a top-tier athlete across the board

  • 40 time (4.54 seconds) puts him near top of his position

  • Twitchy, light-footed and balanced

  • Elite get-off — great first step can stress most tackles

  • Long strider who can arrive at the ball in a jiffy

  • Able to slant into gaps effectively and cross blockers' faces

  • Effective looping inside on line games and beating guards with quickness

  • Reads tackles' pass sets and varies his approach

  • Deep bag of pass-rush tricks — diverse array of moves and counters

  • Doesn't overuse spin move and will make blockers grab at air

  • High pressure rate — gets home quite often when rushing

  • Versatile enough to drop in short zones and spy athletic QBs

  • Nose for the ball, instincts have developed — 3 forced fumbles in 2021

  • Ran back fumble 70 yards vs. Kansas State

  • Decent special-teams value if you dig in on his sophomore tape

  • Has matured since freshman year and grown into leader

Downside

  • On the smaller end, size-wise, for the position

  • Underdeveloped lower body — lacks ideal strength

  • Struggles to detach from longer, stronger blockers — some tight ends can lock him out

  • Too easily washed out of run plays

  • Has to be able to set harder edges

  • Not in on a lot of tackles

  • Lacks a power element in his pass rush

  • Will run too wide an arc trying to win with speed outside

  • Not a true three-down linebacker skill set — best going forward

  • Doesn't offer much in terms of one-on-one coverage

Best-suited destination

Bonitto won't be a fit in every defensive system, likely best-served rushing from a two-point stance as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He could be weaponized as a pass-rush specialist for even-front defenses, but he likely will be drafted high enough where such a fit would be a bit rich, value-wise. Ideally, Bonitto would land with a team that understands he must add weight and strength and could be a breakout player in Year 2.

Did you know

Bonitto was a star at football powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., also seeing time at QB briefly. He also was a star on the basketball team, receiving recruiting interest from some mid- and high-major programs, including some offers to play two sports.

Player comp

Tyus Bowser

Expected draft range

Top 75