Insider: Bo Nix the Early 'Frontrunner' in Broncos QB Competition

Who starts at quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2024?
May 23, 2024; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Bo Nix (10) and quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) during organized team activities at Centura Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
May 23, 2024; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Bo Nix (10) and quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) during organized team activities at Centura Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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The Denver Broncos drafting Bo Nix at No 12 overall doesn't guarantee the 24-year-old will start immediately. Broncos head coach Sean Payton is known to prefer a veteran under center, and he's got some youthful experience in both Jarrett Stidham and Zach Wilson to fall back on if he finds himself in a pinch.

However, if either veteran option were to beat out Nix during training camp, the resounding exhale of disappointment would be deafening. Ideally, Nix would be the Broncos' 2024 starter and learning things the hard way.

NFL analyst James Palmer has suggested that's how Nix might be trending after recent OTAs.

"Let's first say that it's early, but this is probably the worst quarterback room in football. Now that can change after this season. But that's just from [the] track record of the guys in the room," Palmer told host Kay Adams, via her Up and Adams Podcast. "But the front runner is Bo Nix because I really do believe, and this is outside of the norm for Sean Payton to play rookies at really any position, but if you look at everything that's going on in Denver, the number one thing that they need to figure this season is if Bo Nix was the right pick at 12—that's it. That is the point of the 2024 season in Denver. Was Bo Nix at 12 the right play, because they were about the only team, as I called around, that was going to pick Bo Nix in that area."

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The presence of a coaching heavyweight like Payton in Denver suggests the Broncos will view their 2024 campaign in realistic terms. The trust that Nix has established already with Payton seems to be relatively high, so there hasn't been any buyer's remorse in the first-round pick.

That's exactly how Payton should proceed with the project to develop Nix into a bonafide NFL signal-caller. Nix will still have to compete, as Payton said recently that "iron will sharpen iron," and at several different positions, including quarterback.

That being said, that doesn't mean that Payton will curtail his ongoing Nix project simply on account of Stidham or Wilson producing a good day of practice here or there in training camp. Once the prolonged conversations of whether the Broncos reached by drafting Nix peter out, Palmer's read is probably the right one.

The unescapable overview is that the Broncos' 2024 season will be about Payton battle-testing Nix, and it sure sounds like the head coach won't be afraid to lean towards playing the rookie if the former Oregon star shows enough this summer.

"I think some of it is a byproduct of what you have in the building," Payton said in response to a question about his philosophy on starting a rookie QB. "If you have a starter in the building, then that's a path you go. Then sometimes you don't have that luxury, and then that's the path you go. A lot of it is dependent on the quarterback, his mental makeup."

Somewhere along the line, Nix's wherewithal and intestinal fortitude is bound to come bubbling to the surface, and telegraph an easy decision for Payton and company. That's the idea, anyway.

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Keith Cummings

KEITH CUMMINGS

Keith Cummings has covered the Denver Broncos at Mile High Huddle since 2019. His works have been featured on CBSSports.com, BleacherReport.com, Yahoo.com, and MSN.com.