Bo Nix to the Denver Broncos was one of the 2024 NFL Draft’s worst-kept secrets. For weeks, the former Oregon and Auburn quarterback had been linked to the Mile High franchise. Since Peyton Manning led the club to a Super Bowl in 2015, quarterback has been manned by a rotating cast of mediocre characters.

Over the last 8 seasons, the Broncos have started Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler, Case Keenum, Joe Flacco, Drew Lock, Brandon Allen, Jeff Driskel, Brett Rypien, Teddy Bridgewater, Russell Wilson, and Jarrett Stidham. Denver hasn’t posted a winning record since 2016, and it hasn’t made the postseason since Manning left.

That the Broncos reached for Nix at No. 12 isn’t really all that surprising when you consider the context. Five quarterbacks had flown off the board in the 11 picks before Denver went on the clock. And considering the gap between when QB6 and QB7 were selected, it was clear there was a chasm between how NFL franchises viewed Nix and the rest of the class.

In Nix, coach Sean Payton gets a player who fits what he wants at the position. Nix is accurate and quick in his decision-making. He handles pressure well. He organizes things well. And he makes his deep shots count.

In a quarterback room that also features Stidham and the recently acquired Zach Wilson, Nix could certainly emerge from camp with the job. Denver dealt a sixth-round pick to the New York Jets for Wilson ahead of the draft, but it declined his fifth-year option earlier this week.

Nix is the clear future.

So what should be expected of him as a rookie?

Several sportsbooks have season-long props available for Nix (and a number of other top rookies). His numbers are somewhat modest in comparison to some of his peers. Here’s a market breakdown:

Bo Nix passing yards prop

  • Where to bet the over: bet365 | Total: 2,825.5 | -105
  • Where to bet the under: Caesars | Total: 2,900.5 | -115

To clear the over at bet365, Nix would need to average 176.6 passing yards per game in just 16 games played. We’re being generous. He misses 1 game; something weird happens, maybe Zach Wilson somehow wins the job in camp and then the season begins and things go back to normal.

Wilson threw for 3,070 yards last season in 15 games. Even considering the poopoo platter of quarterbacks who have started for the Broncos in recent years, the primary starter has cleared 2,826 passing yards in 5 of the last 6 years. The only year that number didn’t hit was 2019, when Flacco started 8 games, Lock started 5, and Allen started 3. (Flacco and Lock combined to throw for 2,842 yards.)

Assuming Nix is the guy for a full season, he has a decent shot at clearing this number.

Over the last 2 years, Nix’s 86.2 passing grade when pressured is far and away better than any other quarterback that was drafted in the 2024 cycle. Nix also set an all-time NCAA record for completion percentage in a season in 2023 and left Oregon as the program’s leader in career completion percentage.

Payton’s scheme will call for a lot of the same things that Oregon did. Nix will operate in a quick passing game that leans on stick and spacing concepts — characteristics of the Oregon offenses he led. One of Nix’s best attributes was his ability to diagnose pre-snap; that should help him. And he’s one of the oldest rookies you’ll find. The sheer depth of his bank of college reps will help.

“I’m betting on it (succeeding) heavily,” an unnamed NFL executive told The Athletic. “Bo has experience, he has enough arm talent and I think he is going to do what he is coached to do. Sean Payton’s system is optimal for him. Bo is not going to go off-script as much as Russ was going to do. Look, I don’t want him to be successful, but I think he is going to be legit there.”

Pick: Bo Nix over 2,825.5 passing yards

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Bo Nix passing touchdowns prop

  • Where to bet the over: Caesars | Total: 16.5 | -115
  • Where to bet the under: bet365 | Total: 18.5 | -150

In his last 2 seasons at Oregon, Nix threw 29 and then 45 touchdowns. The version of Nix the Ducks got was as optimized as possible. Last year, 13 of Nix’s touchdown passes came on balls that traveled at least 20 yards, 16 came on intermediate throws (10-19 yards), and 16 came on passes within 9 yards.

In terms of the short stuff, Russell Wilson’s passing splits looked pretty similar. Sixty-one percent of his pass attempts came within 9 yards of the line of scrimmage. Nix was at 66%. And Wilson finished the year with 26 touchdown passes.

Nix is going to stay within the confines of the script more often than Wilson did. He’s going to do what Payton wants him to. And, as of right now, Nix still has last year’s leading receiver to throw to.

Courtland Sutton has been the subject of trade speculation for eons now. But he remains with the Broncos. Last year, he caught 59 of his 90 targets for 10 touchdowns. Jerry Jeudy’s departure opens up an opportunity for fourth-round pick (and former Oregon teammate) Troy Franklin to step in and find a role. Franklin’s 14 receiving touchdowns last year were the third-most in the FBS.

The Broncos will need to protect their rookie better. They ranked 27th in the league last fall with 52 sacks allowed in 17 games. They splurged on right tackle Mike McGlinchey and left guard Ben Powers in free agency to bolster the line.

They spent a fifth-round draft pick on Notre Dame quarterback Audric Estime and Payton might have the makings of an offense that is more potent running the ball than throwing it. At least early in Nix’s transition to the NFL. A murky tight end situation is also worth considering.

Since 2018, 15 of the 21 quarterbacks drafted in the first round started at least 10 games as a rookie. Only 7 of them threw at least 17 touchdowns. Those players were CJ Stroud, Mac Jones, Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Baker Mayfield, and Sam Darnold.

Can Nix join that company? Possibly.

Pick: Bo Nix over 16.5 passing touchdowns

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Bo Nix to lead all rookies in passing yards (+800 via FanDuel/DraftKings)

Both FanDuel and DraftKings have this prop on their respective boards. Chicago’s Caleb Williams is the favorite to lead all rookies in passing yards at both sportsbooks. Nix is fourth behind JJ McCarthy and Jayden Daniels at both books.

Williams’ passing yardage prop is currently set at 3,400.5 (via FanDuel), making him the clear favorite in this market.

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Bo Nix to win Offensive Rookie of the Year

  • DraftKings +1600
  • FanDuel +1900
  • bet365: +2000
  • Caesars +2000

If Nix gets the entire season, he’ll have a shot to put up large enough numbers to be in the conversation. JJ McCarthy has more competition in the room. Michael Penix Jr. isn’t going to play. The New England Patriots are lacking talent in a major way.

But, of course, Williams in Chicago is the favorite to take home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors as well. If he has a monster year and Rome Odunze plays a role in that, maybe the rookie wideout takes some votes away from Williams. Maybe Marvin Harrison Jr. or Malik Nabers have explosive receiving seasons in their new homes.