Broncos’ Rookie QB ‘Project’ Could Pay Off Quickly

Bo Nix

Getty Denver Broncos quarterback Bo Nix.

In the lexicon of sports terms, few things are as frustrating as hearing a player in has been labeled as a “project” — essentially a way of giving coaches or executives a pre-ordained excuse if the player doesn’t ultimately deliver.

While Denver Broncos rookie quarterback and first-round pick Bo Nix still gets the “project” label from some, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox thinks he’s the type of project who could pay off right away.

“The Oregon product is competing with Jarrett Stidham and Zach Wilson in Denver, neither of whom is good enough to keep the 12th overall pick on the bench for long,” Knox wrote. “Despite having loads of college experience, however, the first-year QB is very much a project.

“… As a rookie, though, Nix will need to improve his footwork and pocket presence to be a consistent and dependable signal-caller. That’s going to take time, but (Sean) Payton and the Broncos can only be so patient.”

While Nix’s NFL experience might include some early bumps along the road, the Broncos hope his college experience might soften those growing pains — he set an FBS record with 61 starts at Auburn and Oregon from 2019 to 2023.

Group of Rookie Starting QBs Could Define Season

Nix was the No. 12 overall pick and one of the record-tying six quarterbacks chosen in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft.

How many of those quarterbacks end up starting and how they do could be one of the biggest storylines of the upcoming NFL season.

In 2023, Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, engineered a turnaround from 3-13-1 in 2022 to 10-7 in 2023 that included an AFC South Division title.

Out of the six quarterbacks taken in 2024, only Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Penix Jr., the No. 8 overall pick, seems for sure to sit for an extended period of time, but he’s behind four-time Pro Bowler Kirk Cousins.

Broncos Have Never Drafted an Elite Quarterback

Nix will try to do something no quarterback in Denver’s franchise history has, which is to go from being a first-round pick by the team to a great NFL quarterback.

The Broncos’ last two first-round picks at quarterback have been out-and-out busts — Florida quarterback Tim Tebow at No. 25 overall in 2010 and Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch at No. 26 overall in 2016.

Before that, Denver traded up to draft Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler at No. 11 overall in the 2006 NFL draft.

After making the Pro Bowl in 2008 after throwing for a career-high 4,526 yards, Cutler requested a trade after he found out new head coach Josh McDaniels had attempted to trade for New England Patriots backup quarterback Matt Cassel.

Cutler and a fifth-round pick were eventually traded to the Chicago Bears in exchage for quarterback Kyle Orton, two first-round picks and a third-round pick. Cutler went 17-20 as a starter in three seasons with the Broncos.

In 12 NFL seasons, Cutler only had three winning seasons and went 76-79 as a starter. He also made the playoffs just once, in 2010, losing to the Green Bay Packers 21-14 in the NFC Championship Game. The loss to the Packers would come to somewhat define Cutler’s career after he went 6-of-13 passing for 80 yards and one interception before leaving the game early in the third quarter with a sprained MCL.


Read More