New coaching staff must unlock what made Nik Bonitto a high draft pick

As a rookie, Nik Bonitto was a bit of a disappointment.

Aug 5, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Nik Bonitto (42) during training
Aug 5, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Nik Bonitto (42) during training / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Without a pick in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos used their first pick to select Oklahoma pass-rusher Nik Bonitto, who they got with the No. 64 overall pick in the draft.

But if expectations were high, he didn't come close to reaching them as a rookie. In fact, even if expectations were low, he may not have met them.

Bonitto had 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble during his rookie campaign while playing on just 31 percent of the team's defensive snaps.

The Broncos were without Randy Gregory for most of the year, so not having the rookie step into a bigger role hampered the pass rush. Can a new coaching staff be the key to get more out of him? Well, let's hope so.

The Broncos had some injury news come up this offseason as Baron Browning is nursing a knee injury. That news caused the Broncos to react by bringing in veteran Frank Clark.

Gregory, Clark and Browning, when he returns, will be the main players the Broncos rely on to provide a pass rush. But Bonitto has to figure in at some point.

This should be a focus for the team's new pass-rush specialist, Jamar Cain. Working with the young Bonitto to bring out his strengths could turn the Broncos' pass rush from good into great this season.

In 2020, the Broncos used a third-round pick to select McTelvin Agim out of Arkansas. He was considered a project player with upside, but he did next to nothing in two seasons with the Broncos before being cut.

Whether that was coaching or just a player not ready for the big stage is unknown, but the Broncos have to steer Bonitto away from that same path.

Jonathon Cooper has been effective for the Broncos and last year's undrafted free agent gem, at least on paper, Christopher Allen, is ready to show the team what he can do this year.

The potential for Bonitto to fall down the depth chart and become a meaningless piece on the roster is certainly there. Coaches need to unlock the strengths that he had in college that made him a second-round pick to prevent that from happening.

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