Broncos HC Sean Payton Revealed Thought Process Before Drafting Bo Nix

Getty Denver Broncos quarterback Bo Nix

The Denver Broncos selected Bo Nix as the sixth quarterback in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL draft. They stayed at their original draft position (12th overall) to make it happen.

While Nix was the last quarterback taken in the opening round, Broncos head coach Sean Payton revealed that the former Oregon quarterback was their guy all along.

“We have a hard time controlling the outside narrative relative to who might go where, and certainly there’s been a lot of comparisons, whether it’s to Drew (Brees),” Payton said about Nix during the April 25 Pat McAfee Show Draft Spectacular interview.

However, while they eventually selected the quarterback with an NCAA record 77.4 completion percentage, the Broncos did their homework on the other QB prospects.

“We started doing the studies, and we’re comparing Drake (Maye), and we’re kind of then narrowing it down because you know, we’re looking at Drake, we’re looking at J.J. (McCarthy), we’re looking at (Michael) Penix. We don’t know where we’re gonna be at with (Jayden) Daniels and certainly Caleb (Williams),” Payton added.

Aside from comparing Nix with his fellow prospects, his capabilities blew away the Broncos.

“We start with the things that they can do. It’s easy to start with the things they can’t do, and his coach is like, ‘What can he do?’ And then so, analytically, you remove the short passes. He’s got to play in the offense he’s in, but he’s first on third down, first with the fewest sacks, the most accurate passer in college football history, first at the end-of-the-half two minutes, at the end of the game in two minutes, second in red zone, fewest sacks,” Payton added.

The Numbers Paint a Bright Picture for Bo Nix

GettyThe Broncos selected Bo Nix 12th overall in the 2024 NFL draft.

Pro Football Focus depicts vast improvement for Nix’s game from 2021 to 2023. From a 78.5 overall mark in his final season at Auburn, his grade elevated from 86.8 in 2022 to 93 in 2023. Last year, he never had a single-game grade below 66.1 and topped 90 four times.

Among college football quarterbacks with at least 300 dropbacks, Nix ranked first in screen yards (749), adjusted completion percentage (85.5), and turnover-worthy play rate (1.0%).

In addition to leading the NCAA in completions (364), touchdown passes (45), efficiency rating (188.3), and adjusted passing yards per attempt (11.2), Nix did not register a fumble last year.

Nix showed his quarterback talent during his private workout for the Broncos. As Payton recalled during the same interview with McAfee, “I just remember we got in the car afterward, and I just looked around, and I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ The other thing was I was surprised how big he is. He’s 6-foot-2, 218 pounds.”

Broncos Hid Their Intentions Before and During the Draft

GettyDenver Broncos head coach Sean Payton

While the Broncos were sold on Nix before the draft, they still had to hide their preferences, even though draft experts consider Nix an excellent fit for Payton’s system.

As MMQB Senior NFL Reporter Albert Breer wrote in his April 29 Sports Illustrated column, “Payton, Paton, and Penner by then knew where things stood on Nix. They also knew they had to keep it to themselves. So, on the board in the Denver draft room, all of the quarterbacks were stashed on the bottom left corner, in no particular order, both to prevent any sort of bias in discussion and also, simply, to keep the brass’ secret.”

Even if the Broncos already knew what to do with their first-round pick, Payton told McAfee they thought of moving up the draft board. “Before (Michael) Penix was taken, we were discussing like a slight wiggle, then you start looking at it and saying, ‘Is it worth the risk for a third-round pick? ‘I’m just glad that it worked out in our favor. He’s excited. He’s the son of a coach and the son of a former player.”

Nix jumpstarted the Broncos’ offensive-laden draft. Five of their seven picks were on that side of the ball, including running back Audric Estime and wide receiver Troy Franklin, who will reunite with Nix in Denver.

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