While many thought Frank Clark and Randy Gregory were going to be the top pass rush options on the Denver Broncos, Jonathon Cooper and Nik Bonitto have had other ideas. Two players who each had stellar offseasons appear to be carrying that into the 2023 NFL season. Jonathon Cooper and Nik Bonitto appear to be the top pass rushing options on the Denver Broncos off the EDGE.
In Week 4, Bonitto notched 2.5 sacks and Cooper added one sack himself. On the season, Bonitto has 3.5 sacks in four games and Cooper has 3.0 sacks in four games. If you do the math, Bonitto is on pace for a whopping 15 sacks in 2023, and Cooper is on pace for 13. Yes, currently, through 25 percent of the season, the Denver Broncos are on pace to have two players with double-digit sacks.
It's a lovely sight to see even if the defense has been bad. Sure, both Bonitto and Cooper could use a ton of improvement as run defenders, and the secondary is pretty bad, but one of the most important positions for a good team to have solidified is the EDGE rushers. Getting to the QB is a must in the modern-day NFL, and the Broncos have two players who can currently do that.
Now, it does need to be said that the Chicago Bears' offensive line is bad, and even though Justin Fields played well in Week 4, he's still a bad QB who tends to hold onto the ball for too long, so it's not like Bonitto and Cooper tore up a top offensive line and QB, but it's still worth covering.
Bonitto was a second-round pick back in 2022 and Cooper was a seventh-round pick back in 2021. They're both obviously still on their rookie deals and appear to be gradually improving. In fact, through four games, both Bonitto and Cooper have set career-high sack totals. They've gotten to the QB pretty consistently, and next week, they have another great chance to make some noise.
The New York Jets' offensive line is not great, perhaps worse than the Bears, so I'd not only expect Bonitto and Cooper to get the start, but also for them to be in the backfield several times in Week 5. They combined to have a scoop and score. Bonitto forced Justin Fields into a sack. Fields fumbled the ball and Cooper was right there to pick it up and return it for a touchdown.
Unless these two continue to explode in 2023, I still think it would be a good idea for the Denver Broncos to invest into this room in 2024. I think signing a legitimate free agent who can rush the passer will put the finishing touches on the unit, which is waiting for Baron Browning's return from injury.