May 24, 2024

Broncos select former Oregon QB Bo Nix with the 12th pick in the NFL draft

By ARNIE STAPLETON AP Pro Football Writer
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The sixth quarterback selected in the 2024 NFL draft was No. 1 in the Denver Broncos’ eyes.
The Broncos bypassed a bevy of blue-chip defenders to draft former Oregon quarterback Bo Nix with the 12th pick Thursday night.
“He stood out in a lot of areas,” coach Sean Payton said. “His arm strength, we saw it at his pro day, but then even in the private workout was very good. And he’s super smart.”
Denver has churned through 13 starting quarterbacks since Peyton Manning retired as a Super Bowl champion following the 2015 season. None of the signal-callers who have followed him has been able to lead Denver back to the playoffs.
Their eight-year playoff drought is exacerbated by seven straight losing seasons and watching Patrick Mahomes lead division rival Kansas City to three Super Bowl parades in five years, including the past two.
There was plenty of speculation the Broncos would have to move up to get in on the quarterback run, but they’ve already unloaded three first-round draft picks since 2022, including two in the Russell Wilson trade that didn’t work out.
Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye went 1-2-3 as expected, and when the New York Giants bypassed a QB at No. 6, Payton felt good about the three QB-needy teams — Minnesota, Denver and Las Vegas — all being set to get their man.
Then, the Atlanta Falcons pulled off the stunner of Round 1, selecting Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8 even though they just signed Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract.
“New York would have been the surprise team and if New York took a quarterback, then there’s three waiting for two,” Payton said. “And so once New York cleared, I’m sure every team we’re talking about felt like all right. And then Atlanta takes a quarterback and that’s the fun part about this draft. You can’t dive into everyone’s draft room to know how they feel about someone.”
The Falcons’ move threw teams for a loop and the Broncos sweated it out when the Vikings swapped the No. 11 pick for the New York Jets’ 10th overall selection. They exhaled when the Vikings took QB J.J. McCarthy and the Jets took an offensive tackle.
“We could have moved a couple of picks back and maybe gotten a couple of picks,” general manager George Paton said. “But at the end of the day, ‘This was our guy. Let’s just take him. Let’s not overthink it.’ And we would have been sick if we lost him just for, you know, a couple of fifth-round picks or what have you.”
So, ultimately, the Broncos stood pat and didn’t have to part with any picks to get the quarterback they wanted, one whom Payton acknowledged was “bigger than I thought he was” at 6-foot-2 and 217 pounds.
Half of the top dozen selections were quarterbacks for the first time ever.
“I wasn’t shocked. I think the six of us, we’re all capable of playing at the next level,” Nix said. “It’s going to be fun to watch everybody and see how they develop. I wasn’t shocked at all because I think this class of quarterbacks was very strong.”
Nix joins a quarterback room that includes newly acquired Zach Wilson, whom the Broncos traded for Monday after the 2021 second overall pick had three disappointing seasons with the New York Jets.
Also on the roster is Jarrett Stidham, who split his two starts last season after coach Sean Payton benched Russell Wilson, and Ben DiNucci.
“They’re all going to compete,” Payton said. “Bill (Parcells) taught me a long time ago, let’s just let them play and we’ve got to maximize the reps that we have and let them develop, and that stuff will sort itself out.”
Nix knows that.
“Well, I know everybody has to compete, I know everybody has to go to work,” Nix said. “We haven’t had any conversations thus far past draft prep. But I just can’t wait to get around the locker room, I can’t wait to get around the guys, meet all my new teammates, meet coaches and get to work.”
Russell Wilson signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but remains the highest-paid player on Denver’s roster because the Broncos will pay $37.79 million of his $39 million salary in 2024. That’s on top of the $85 million in dead cap charges they’ll absorb over the next two years.
After three solid seasons at Auburn, Nix had two terrific seasons at Oregon, where he threw for 74 touchdowns with 10 interceptions and he completed almost 75% of his passes in 27 games.
Because he capitalized on the extra year the NCAA granted athletes because of the pandemic, Nix played in a whopping 61 college games.
Now he’s ready to lead Denver out of its nearly decade-long doldrums.
He thanked the Broncos for “putting their beliefs in me.”
Nix is the first player the Broncos have selected in the first round since 2021, when they chose cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the ninth overall pick.