As the Seahawks do not, as of writing, possess a first-round pick, the players they select may end up being unknown to some people. Therefore, with the season coming to a close and with the Seahawks being completely out of the playoff picture, it seems time to look towards the offseason and the hope that the new season brings by going over a few players that could be Seahawks draft prospects.
Seahawks Draft Prospects — Nik Bonitto
Name: Nik Bonitto, #11
Position: Edge Rusher/Outside Linebacker
Height: 6-3 ft
Weight: 238 lbs
School: Oklahoma Sooners
With over 15 sacks over the past two seasons, Bonitto has been an instrumental part of this Sooners defense. For quite an unexpectedly bad season, following the regression of Spencer Rattler, Nik Bonitto has been a consistently solid defensive player. His edge-rushing ability, combined with his tackling ability has been extremely helpful to the somewhat limited success of Oklahoma.
The Seahawks need a new Edge Rusher because the team overall has only 29 sacks, the 8th fewest in the league. They also have the 6th lowest pressure percentage and have failed to get to the QB at all this year. Even the best Edge Rusher, Carlos Dunlap, has recorded a PFF grade of only 72.5.
Games Watched: Florida (2020), Kansas (2021), Nebraska (2021), TCU (2021)
- He is extremely athletic, using his speed as a way to beat blockers consistently
- He has unbelievable bend and burst, and a motor that can go on for ages, making him into a reliable, every-down rusher
- He has quite good coverage skills, being able to cover running backs and tight ends quite easily
- As a run defender, he sets the edge quite well and is quick to reach round blockers to make tackles
- He is quite versatile, being able to play in coverage, rushing the passer, or even as a spy for the QB
- He has good instincts when playing on the edge
- He has good lateral quickness, being able to avoid blockers by jumping sideways
- He is explosive out of the gate and can easily gain the first step on blockers with ease, making it extremely difficult for slower offensive tackles to deal with him
- There are not many better players than Bonitto at pursuing the ball-carrier and bringing them down
- He has a tremendous speed-to-power rush, that allows him to get after the QB with ease
- He could be viewed as undersized for a pass rusher as he is only 238 lbs, almost 30 lbs lighter than the average Edge Rusher (measured at the combine since 1999)
- He is also not as strong as many Edge Rushers and so could struggle if forced to bull rush, or if a blocker is quick at stopping his speed rushing moves
- He doesn’t have elite length and could be stopped if he comes up against a blocker with long arms and good arm strength
- He has struggled (slightly) as a #1 rusher and so is more suited to being the #2 guy while a more dominant Edge Rusher works on the other side
Projected role in the NFL: Due to his versatility, he could play at a plethora of positions. But he appears most at home as a 3-4 Outside Linebacker or as a “Sam” Linebacker in a 4-3 defense, allowing him to drop into coverage while rushing the passer occasionally. He should line up as a 5-tech or a 7-tech as he doesn’t have the physical profile to go against a guard.
Best team fit(s): As mentioned earlier, the Seahawks could use him on their roster. The Packers could use him as the Robin to Za’Darius Smith, who would be more like the Batman. The Vikings could similarly utilize him.
Pro comparison: His physical profile and his style of play are very similar to that of Haason Reddick, the Edge Rusher for the Carolina Panthers. Reddick was viewed as undersized when coming out of Temple but has gone on to have quite a successful career in the league. They are both dominant when allowed to set the edge and use speed moves to beat blockers and both are capable of dropping into coverage.
Grading scale: 95+ Generational | 90-94, Early 1st Round | 85-90, Mid/Late 1st Round | 80-84, 2nd Round | 75-79, 3rd Round | 70-74, 4th Round | 65-69, 5/6th Round | 60-64 6/7th Round | <60, Undrafted Free Agents
Grade and Draft Value: 90/100 is my ranking of Nik Bonitto which places him at 4th in my Edge Rusher rankings, and puts him in my top 25 for my overall rankings. However, I am a lot higher on him than most draft analysts and so I predict that he will be taken a bit later than I say he will. Hopefully, come draft day, he will slip down to wherever the Seahawks’ first pick will be.