Why Broncos 2024 NFL Draft first-round pick Bo Nix has a head start in QB race

Bo Nix already ahead of the game in Denver.
Denver Broncos Rookie Minicamp
Denver Broncos Rookie Minicamp / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

So, here’s a hot take.  Bo Nix will be the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos at the start of the 2024 NFL season.  Okay, maybe that is more of a bold prediction, but the No. 12 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft wasn’t drafted that high to sit behind either Zach Wilson or Jarrett Stidham.

All three young quarterbacks will get an opportunity to be the starter and all three have a chance, but Nix’s talent is more of what Broncos head coach Sean Payton wants in a QB.  It doesn’t mean it automatically slots him in as the starter, but both Wilson or Stidham will need to impress Payton and really outperform Nix to win the role. 

As of right now, at the first week of voluntary OTAs, the Broncos head coach had high praise for all 3 QB’s, but his compliments of Nix are what stood out.

When asked about his progression, Payton was quick to praise Nix’s football IQ.

“Good, he’s farther along than most would be,” Payton said, via ESPN.  “We’re talking about a player who’s played 61 games [in college].  He’s extremely smart.  He’s picked it up quickly.”

Denver Broncos quarterback race is really Bo Nix's to lose

That IQ may be what gets Nix and ability to execute the playbook of Payton is what will win the role in Denver.  Coming off a college career of high success, Nix was still the sixth quarterback off the board in the 2024 NFL Draft, but it wasn’t due to his lack of arm talent or overall talent as a signal caller.  Nix tore it up during his last season at Oregon, throwing for over 4,500 yards with 45 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions as a fifth-year senior. 

In playing a full five years in college, Nix enters the NFL as perhaps the most NFL ready of the six quarterbacks, so that maturity should help him outshine two quarterbacks with both experience and talent, but both may be behind Nix when it comes to this one important aspect Payton is looking for in a QB.

“I think some of it is a byproduct of what you have in the building.  If you have a starter in the building then that’s the path you go, and sometimes you don’t have that luxury, then that’s the path you go,” Payton said when discussing why Nix was drafted.  “A lot of it is dependent on the quarterback, his mental makeup.”

Stidham, who came in the league as a fourth-round pick, has had opportunities to make a case for himself with the New England Patriots and Las Vegas Raiders during his short NFL career.  But his current situation with the Broncos may be his best opportunity.  Does he have the mental makeup to win the job and secure it?

That’s one of the questions that will be answered this summer.  Another will be whether Payton can revive the career of Zach Wilson who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.  Again, the talent is there, but his decision-making has been highly scrutinized during his three-year NFL career.  The question marks behind both Stidham and Wilson is really what gives Nix the head start.  He’s coming into the league with a clean slate and has similar traits to a very successful quarterback Payton coached, Drew Brees.

In both efficiency and his ability to run the quick offense, Nix is a great fit with Payton and the Broncos.  Will he be the next version of Brees?  Well, if he can’t beat out Stidham and Wilson, that comparison may sour very quickly…especially in Denver.