Sean Payton Offers Encouraging Evaluation of Broncos QB Bo Nix

Bo Nix, Denver Broncos

Quarterback Bo Nix #10 of the Denver Broncos.

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton is judging a three-man quarterback battle. Each of incumbent Jarrett Stidham, trade acquisition Zach Wilson, and rookie first-round draft pick Bo Nix got a chance to lead the starters during OTAs.

They had varying success but it is very early in the process.

Even with that, comments from Payton paint an optimistic picture of how the most significant of those competitors – Nix – has adjusted to the playbook so far.

“He’s farther along than most would be,” Payton told reporters after the final day of OTAs on May 23. “We’re talking about a player who’s played 61 games [in college]. He’s extremely smart. He’s picked it up very quickly.”

Payton has no experience with first-round quarterbacks as a head coach. The bulk of his success came with veteran and future Hall of Famer, Drew Brees, under center for the New Orleans Saints.

Still, this is a continuation of Nix’s display during the Broncos’ rookie minicamp.

“He’s handling the install well,” Payton told the press pool on May 11. “It’s almost like watching a good golfer, you know? Sometimes when you watch his game over two years, you just – there’s a patience to how he plays. The ball comes out and, I don’t want to use the term boring. That’s not the right term. But, yeah, pretty good decisions.”

Nix’s 61 games played in college set an NCAA record, as did his 77.4% completion rate last season as he finished third in the Heisman voting.

Broncos’ Bo Nix Eager to Learn From Sean Payton

Sean Payton, Bo Nix, Denver Broncos

GettyQuarterback Bo Nix #10 of the Denver Broncos.

Nix said he had enjoyed his time around Payton during rookie minicamp, noting that he wasn’t trying to get too far ahead of himself.

“It’s a day-to-day process,” Nix told the media on May 11. You got to go from one meeting to one practice, one walkthrough. Take them one at a time and just learn as much as you can and just not make the same mistake twice.

“[Payton]’s been awesome. He teaches me so much already. He’s got a lot of knowledge. And he’s built a pedigree to where, when he talks, you listen. So that’s what I’m excited to continue, to just learn from him more and more each day. And as we go through practices and walkthroughs, you just can’t learn enough from him.”

Pre-draft evaluations presumed Payton could get the most out of any quarterback selected.

Nix has also drawn comparisons to Brees, which certainly bodes well for his outlook and the Broncos. But Payton will have to help him reach his potential.

Nix is one of the older prospects in the entire class at 24 years old. But Brees was 27 years old with three separate 3,000-yard seasons to his credit when Payton first got his hands on him in New Orleans.

There is more work to do and patience needed with Nix.

Bo Nix Faces Challenge from Broncos Teammate

Bo Nix, Denver Broncos

GettyQuarterback Bo Nix #10 of the Denver Broncos.

Nix won’t get to run away with the job, not if his teammates have any say. Wilson was the “most erratic”, Nix offered “more good than bad,” and Stidham was “steady,” per KOA’s Ryan Edwards on X on May 23.

And it was Stidham who essentially laid down the gauntlet to his fellow quarterbacks with the starting job up for grabs.

“I mean I’ve dealt with this before when I was in New England when we drafted Mac Jones. It’s a business. Totally understand it,” Stidham told reporters on May 23. “At the same time, I’m here to compete. I’m not just going to sit down and let somebody else walk on in here and – I mean, I’m going to compete my butt off to get the job. So, super excited about it.”

Stidham has the advantage of experience with the Broncos in Payton’s system.

But the Broncos acquired Wilson using draft capital (in a swap) this offseason while Nix is the heir apparent for the job. Even if Stidham wins, his leash and time as QB1 could be short.