High effort and high athleticism mean lots of grass covered.
Bonitto plays with an outstanding motor and displays tremendous effort every down. He is relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback and is often gifted production late in the down simply because he never stops working. He plays with his hair on fire and is aggressive in his attack.
Tweener or scheme diverse talent?
Thanks to his lack of size and top-end strength, Bonitto will be labeled as a tweener when you look at his projection at the next level. I believe he has the skill set to not just be an effective edge rusher but I think he has the skill and athleticism to play off-the-ball linebacker who can cover and play the run in an even front defense.
First Step Explosiveness
Zero to sixty in no time at all.
First Step Explosiveness
Bonitto offers excellent first-step quickness and is explosive out of the blocks. He is able to gain the edge quickly, forcing tackles to over-kick, and then he uses his quickness and lateral agility to counter inside. Given his lack of size, his explosiveness and quickness are his best assets to get home.
Oklahoma edge defender Nik Bonitto is a versatile player who has been a spark plug for the Sooner defense. Bonitto aligns as an EDGE, playing out of a two-point stance in the Sooner’s multiple-front scheme. He is an undersized defender but offers outstanding overall athleticism for the position.
As a pass rusher, Bonitto wins with speed, quickness, body control, and bend. He has excellent get-off to gain the edge and has flexibility in his ankles to bend tight angles. He is creative in his rush moves and is extremely hard to land punches on as he has excellent lateral agility to make offensive linemen miss. He can knife through gaps, contorting his body and slipping through. Bonitto plays with outstanding effort and is relentless in his rush. His lack of length and power allows him to get covered up if stronger offensive linemen get their hands on him early, but he often gets late in the down production due to sheer motor.
In the run game, Bonitto is above average setting the edge and is quick to disengage and locate the football. He is an excellent tackler in the open field as well. Bonitto shows well in coverage, having the eyes and awareness to drop in zone and the athleticism to cover in man. All in all, Bonitto is an exciting edge defender with outstanding athleticism and motor, but his size and strength will paint him as a tweener in some teams’ eyes.
Ideal Role: Starting 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 off-the-ball linebacker with DPR ability on passing downs.
Scheme Fit: 3-4 front
Written by Brentley Weissman
Games watched: Nebraska (2021), TCU (2021), Texas (2021), Florida (2020)
Best Game Studied: Florida (2020)
Worst Game Studied: TCU (2021)
First Step Explosiveness: See Above.
Flexibility: Bonitto displays excellent ankle flexibility to turn sharp corners and tight angles when he is rushing the passer. He displays an excellent ability to bend the corner and get home to the quarterback. A very fluid athlete, Bonitto can make defenders miss with body fakes and seamless moves tied together.
Hand Counters: Bonitto uses his hands well and offers a wide variety of hand counters and moves when he is rushing. He is able to tie moves together with ease and rushes with a plan. He has quick and fiery hands that get released with urgency and timing.
Length: Bonitto has above average length overall but he does show he can use it as a pass rusher. You’ll see Bonitto effectively long arm defenders with a speed-to-power rush and disrupt the quarterback. In the run game, his lack of length shows up as he can get covered up at the point.
Hand Power: Bonitto has just above average power in his hands, but he can generate movement with speed to power. He isn’t the type to win with a firm bull rush square on offensive tackles, but if he threatens with speed to get the feet moving he can quickly transition to power while the tackle is on his heels.
Run Defending: As a run defender, Bonitto can set a firm edge and hold his ground at the point of attack. He is excellent at disengaging blocks and tracking the ball-carrier. He uses his quickness and lateral agility to stay uncovered and slip and evade ensuing blockers to make the play. Relentless in pursuit, Bonitto chases plays down backside and the effort is outstanding.
Effort (Motor): See Above.
Football I.Q: Bonitto is a very instinctual football player who understands his assignments. He can process quickly and can read blocking schemes. He is asked to play a variety of roles for the Sooner defense, whether it’s rushing the passer, dropping in zone coverage, or being a spy.
Lateral Mobility: A dynamic athlete, Bonitto has tremendous lateral agility and quickness. As a rusher, he easily jukes out tackles with quickness and sharp cuts. He is able to keep his body clear and makes it very hard to land a proper punch. In the run game, he can change direction and make plays in the open field with ease.
Versatility: See Above.
TDN Consensus: 78.08/100 (Third Round Value)
Crabbs Grade: 81.00/100
Marino Grade: 77.00/100
Harris Grade: 77.00/100
Sanchez Grade: 75.00/100
Weissman Grade: 83.50/100
Parson Grade: 75.00/100