Wednesday was a landmark day for Nik Bonitto as the Denver Broncos' top rookie draft pick received both his official jersey number and his first NFL contract.
According to 9News' Mike Klis, the former Oklahoma defensive end agreed to terms on a four-year, $5.801 million deal that includes a $1.39 million signing bonus.
Bonitto, chosen 64th overall in round two, flew up Denver's big board following a Sooners career in which he recorded 33 tackles-for-loss, 19.5 sacks, and seven pass deflections. The 6-foot-3, 248-pound pass-rusher twice earned second-team All-Big 12 honors and was an Associated Press third-team All-American in 2021.
With 4.54 speed and solid bend, Bonitto drew pre-draft comparisons ranging from Haason Reddick to Bruce Irvin. Due to his slender frame, however, the 22-year-old was somewhat viewed as a one-dimensional prospect who could struggle mightily against the run.
The Broncos nevertheless felt convicted enough to pull the trigger on Bonitto, who joins a crowded room of edge defenders featuring Bradley Chubb, Randy Gregory, Malik Reed, Jonathon Cooper, and (presumably) Baron Browning.
Chubb and Gregory are expected to open the season as Denver's starting OLBs, likely relegating Bonitto — who wear will No. 42 — to sub-package and specialty roles.
"When you talk about Nik, you're talking about a player we identified early on in this process," defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero said. "A player that in college, was a highly productive pass rusher, highly productive versus the run, and [we] really believe this man is going to come in here, he’s going to work his butt off. He's the character that we're looking for. He's really going to add a lot to our team. When we talk about attacking the quarterback, this is the type of player we're talking about."
Bonitto was the fourth member of the Broncos' 2022 class to put pen to paper Wednesday. The team also inked fifth-round offensive lineman Luke Wattenberg, sixth-round defensive lineman Matt Henningsen, and seventh-round cornerback Faion Hicks.
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