All Eyes on Bo Nix: Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. changes his tune on Drew Brees NFL comparison

NFL Draft analyst no longer sees Drew Brees in Bo Nix?
Oregon's Bo Nix
Oregon's Bo Nix / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix impressed NFL teams with his deep throw accuracy during his pro day workout back in March, but it wasn’t enough for ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., who once projected the star QB prospect as high as No. 12.

In his NFL mock draft in March, Kiper seemed impressed by Nix, going as far as comparing him to Drew Brees as far as his size and accuracy as a big arm passer.

Fair or unfair, Kiper made that comparison in evaluating Nix, which at the time made him an intriguing prospect for teams selecting outside of the top 10 in the 2024 NFL Draft.  In throwing for over 4,500 yards and 45 touchdowns during his final season at Oregon, there’s no doubt about the arm talent as he did display during his pro day with NFL teams like the New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets, and Seattle Seahawks amongst the teams in attendance.

2024 NFL Draft: Is Mel Kiper Jr. over-evaluating the talent of Bo Nix?

Did the pro day performance sway Kiper Jr. at the time he made his Brees comparison?  Here is what he had to said in his evaluation of Nix:

"Hand size even, exactly the same," he said in his comparion of the two QBs, as transcribed by Bleacher Report. "Nix 6'2", Drew Brees 6'0.5". Both around 215 [pounds]. Accurate passers. Don't have the big arm—Brees didn't have the big arm, that's why he was the first pick in the second round, right? Nix doesn't have the big arm. Cerebral. Can beat a defense with their legs. Nix can, Brees had legs coming out, had had over 600 yards rushing in that last year at Purdue."

In believing Broncos head coach Sean Payton will see a lot of the traits in Nix that he saw in Brees, Kiper Jr. projected at the time that Denver would be the destination in his mock.  A month later, the ESPN draft analyst has Nix falling to the second round.

What changed?

As the case with prospects prior to the NFL Draft, analysts can talk themselves into and out of favor with players in the draft.  With Nix, Kiper Jr. sees some risk in the Oregon quarterback noting his average pass traveled downfield as a cause to pause on drafting Nix as high as he initially projected.

“I thought hard again about giving the Broncos quarterback Bo Nix (Oregon), but I talked myself out of it. I just don’t think Nix is a first-round signal-caller. I have a Round 2 grade on him based on everything I’ve seen on tape. He lit up defenses for the Ducks the past two seasons -- he had 74 touchdown passes to just 10 picks -- but there’s some risk involved based on what he was asked to do in the Oregon offense. His average pass traveled 6.3 yards downfield last season, which was sixth shortest among 125 qualified FBS quarterbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Info.”

What Kiper Jr. believes is that much of Nix’s lofty numbers were due to having receivers who created yards after the catch.  Does it take away from his deep ball talent?  It shouldn’t and a team like the Broncos may not have that same concern.  In completing 77.4 percent of his throws, his ability to deliver the ball to his playmakers in positions where they could make plays is a positive to take out of what Kiper Jr. sees as a negative.

In all, Nix’s ability to drive the ball, make throws off-schedule and his athleticism at the QB position is what will ultimately persuade a team to draft him whether it is early in the first round or as a Day 2 top pick.  All eyes will certainly be on Bo Nix come draft day.