Former SB MVP: Broncos QB Bo Nix Will Adapt to NFL 'Really Fast'

Guys who played the game have little doubt about Bo Nix's readiness for the NFL.
Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton and rookie quarterback Bo Nix.
Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton and rookie quarterback Bo Nix. / Ben Swanson/Denver Broncos

Before the 2024 NFL draft, Oregon quarterback Bo Nix was often mocked to the Denver Broncos at No. 12 overall because of the obvious fit with Sean Payton. It turned out that Payton and the Broncos saw it that way, too, pulling the trigger on the Heisman Trophy finalist.

The immediate aftermath of the Broncos drafting Nix at No. 12 saw draftnik types around the national media mostly slamming the pick, saying that Payton reached too early for the quarterback. But the media guys who actually played the game sang a different tune for the most part.

Two of those guys are Phil and Chris Simms, the father/son duo. Phil won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants, while Chris' NFL career took on more of a journeyman quarterback path, with a one-year stop in Denver circa 2009.

In a recent NBC Sports segment, the Simmses spit-balled the Nix/Payton topic, with Phil gushing over the fit, and pointing out how the draftniks may have sold the former Oregon quarterback short during the pre-draft process.

"First off the personalities are gonna match. I mean, Bo Nix, his father's a coach. I think he won a state championship down in Alabama this year. So he's the man. Right away, that just tells you who Bo Nix is gonna be," Phil said. "Then, if you watched him play—he's another one. I watched him during the season. I liked him. I said, 'He looks bigger than 6-foot-2.' I don't know what it is. He's long-legged, he's got great size. I think he's very mobile. I don't think he got the credit he deserved there. And, oh, his arm strength... Is it elite? No, but he does make a lot of power throws every single game."

Phil wasn't the only former NFL quarterback impressed by Nix's size. Payton has talked multiple times since the draft of his pleasant surprise at Nix's frame, especially his legs and, for lack of a better term, how 'thick' he is at 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds.

One of the points the post-draft pearl-clutchers continually landed on was Nix's age. On one hand, he enters the NFL as literally the most experienced college quarterback of all time, while on the other, he's 24 years old. Phil was very dismissive of the ageism directed at Nix.

"I don't know what the—'Well, he's old.' That's another thing that irks my a**," Phil said. "'He's gonna be 25.' So what? They act like they've gotta get these guys, they're gonna keep them for 20 years... Hopefully, they can get four years in."

To be fair, when a team drafts a quarterback in the first round, it's with the hope that he'll be the guy for the next 15 years, so age does factor into the relative value of a prospect. But combined with other traits, strengths, and weaknesses, age shouldn't be (and isn't) the be-all end-all.

Phil has been around the NFL four 40-plus years as a player and color commentator. He remembers Payton's short-lived playing career as a quarterback in the 1980s, which included some time with the Chicago Bears, and stops in the CFL and Arena Football League. But Phil focused on Payton's time playing in the UK Budweiser National League and tied that into what it means for Nix's outlook.

"Well, Sean's the quarterback... He's the quarterback. 'This is what I would do. I'm designing this play because I could run this,'" Phil said. "I looked at some of his film when he played over in Europe. But damn, it's true, he's looking for Drew Brees. Or he was looking for Patrick Mahomes, but he blew that. So that's another story. But Bo Nix, I think, is gonna adapt to the NFL really fast."

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For his part, Chris sees Nix wasting little time acclimating to the NFL and getting up to speed. But he did voice one concern he has for the rookie as he assimilates Payton's scheme.

"I think Bo Nix will hit the ground running," Chris said. "My only [concern] is that Sean puts too much on him. That's the only thing that I worry about just a little early on. Just being, 'Oh, this guy's got it. He's smart.' And they do too much offense too early."

While it may be a justifiable concern, both Phil and Chris dismissed the probability of it happening. Payton knows what he's doing and while the shining star on his NFL resume is Brees, and the Hall-of-Fame-type player he became, he also coached several other quarterbacks down the stretch of his tenure with the New Orleans Saints, which, ostensibly, helped him learn real quick how to balance installs and resist putting too much on a young guy's plate too early.

But Nix is an apt pupil. He's NFL-ready, which is why the Broncos didn't blink at investing a first-round pick in a 24-year-old quarterback. It's going to be fun to see whether the Simms boys are right about Nix and whether he'll "hit the ground running" and "adapt to the NFL really fast."

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Chad Jensen

CHAD JENSEN

Chad Jensen is the Founder of Mile High Huddle and creator of the wildly popular Mile High Huddle Podcast. Chad has been on the Denver Broncos beat since 2012 and is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.