Rookie QB Bo Nix Called ‘Centerpiece Of It All’ for Broncos, Payton

If they existed in the “Star Wars” universe, Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton would be a Jedi. Rookie quarterback Bo Nix would be the young Padawan taken under Payton’s wing.

Broncos fans hope the relationship’s development will put the franchise in a galaxy far, far away from where it’s been the last decade.

PFF’s Dalton Wasserman recently called Nix the “reason for optimism” for the Broncos in 2024 thanks to Payton finding what he hopes will be his next great quarterback — Payton teamed with Drew Brees for over a decade on the New Orleans Saints and the two won a Super Bowl together.

“Broncos head coach Sean Payton identified Bo Nix as his franchise quarterback, likely seeing some similarities to Drew Brees in the process,” Wasserman wrote. “Nix led college football in passing grade and adjusted completion percentage last year. He gets rid of the ball extremely quickly and accurately.”

The Broncos selected Nix out of Oregon with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft. Nix was sixth quarterback taken in the first round, tying the record set in 1983 when Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino were all selected.

Broncos ‘Surrounding Nix With Weapons’

Nix won’t be able to do it on his own and the Broncos have an arsenal of offensive weapons around him to begin with — should he be named starter as a rookie — and will only add more in the future.

“The process of surrounding Nix with weapons has already started,” Wasserman wrote. “Courtland Sutton remains a reliable option on the outside. Nix’s Oregon teammate Troy Franklin fell to Denver in the fourth round of the draft, giving him a familiar deep target. A running back room composed of Javonte Williams, Samaje Perine, Jaleel McLaughlin and rookie Audric Estime gives the team plenty of ground options. Sean Payton has an interesting group to work with, and Bo Nix is the centerpiece of it all.”

Nix has more college experience than any quarterback who has ever entered the NFL.

Nix’s 61 career starts and 43-18 record as a starter from 2019 to 2023 at Auburn and then Oregon set an NCAA record that will almost certainly never be broken.

In 2023, he was the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and a Heisman Trophy finalist and set the NCAA single-season record for completion percentage (77.4 percent) and led the FBS with 45 passing touchdowns. He also set a single-season school record 4,508 passing yards.

Denver in Disastrous Stretch of Starting QBs

The Broncos have been objectively terrible at quarterback since winning the Super Bowl following the 2015 season, which was Peyton Manning’s last as the starter.

The Broncos haven’t made the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl and have started 13 different quarterbacks in that stretch.

Nix was the second quarterback the Broncos drafted in the first round in that time following Memphis’ Paxton Lynch in 2016, but the worst move the team made at the position came via a trade when they sent two two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a fifth-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks as part of a draft package for 9-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson.

The Broncos signed Wilson to a 5-year, $245 million contract extension then cut him after two seasons in which he led the NFL in sacks taken (55) and yards lost (368) in 2022 and threw for a career-low 3,070 yards in 2023.

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