Prospect Profile: Bo Nix

Quarterback has been a position of significant intrigue ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft. The least intriguing piece is USC’s Caleb Williams, who has been slotted into the No. 1 overall pick pretty much since the end of the 2023 NFL Draft. For several weeks now, a prediction that three other quarterbacks (LSU’s Jayden Daniels, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy) are expected to occupy the three picks immediately following the presumed selection of Williams, in some order. After those four, only two other names have been mentioned as potential first round passers: Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. (who received a Prospect Profile a month ago) and Oregon quarterback Bo Nix.

Nix started off his high school career at Scottsboro School (Alabama) before following his father, former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix, who had just been hired as the head coach at Pinson Valley HS (Alabama) closer to Birmingham. A fractured left ankle kept the younger Nix from thriving in his first year at the new school, but he made a return in time to lead Pinson Valley to a state championship title. He absolutely dominated his senior year, leading his school to their second straight state title and getting ranked by 247Sports as the nation’s 62nd best overall recruit and second-best dual-threat quarterback behind Daniels. Other recruiting services had him as a five-star quarterback and the top dual-threat passer in the nation.

Sitting smack dab between Alabama and Auburn, Nix was recruited heavily by both programs. It did not take much to persuade Nix, though, as he committed to his father’s alma mater before his senior season even began, never wavering from following in his father’s footsteps. Nix enrolled early for the Tigers and quickly beat out Joey Gatewood and Malik Willis for the starting job as a true freshman. Despite early growing pains, namely his 57.6 completion percentage, Nix shined in his first year leading the team, earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors. While Nix displayed some ups and downs over the next two years, his numbers continued to improve despite having three different offensive coordinators. The team success did not improve, though, as the Tigers went 12-9 with Nix starting in those two years.

After a broken ankle ended his 2021 season, Nix let it be known that he was miserable under new head coach Bryan Harsin, who didn’t coach in 2023 after being fired part-way through the 2022 season, and entered the transfer portal. Nix committed to Oregon, reuniting with Kenny Dillingham, who had been his offensive coordinator during his freshman year at Auburn. Thanks to COVID-19, Nix now had six years to play five seasons, meaning he had two years of eligibility remaining with the Ducks.

Nix exploded in his first season at a new school. For the first time in his collegiate career, Nix eclipsed a 70 completion percentage (71.9), 3,000 passing yards (3,593), 20 passing touchdowns (29), 500 rushing yards (510), and 10 rushing touchdowns (14). He was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection as he set the school record for highest completion percentage at a school that produced such quarterbacks as Marcus Mariota and Justin Herbert. His senior year saw him take off even more, beating his prior year passing numbers with a new record-77.4 completion percentage, 4,508 passing yards, and 45 touchdowns to just three interceptions.

If stats were the sole determining factor for who would go No. 1 overall in the NFL draft, Nix would be the unanimous selection. In 2023, Nix’s 77.4 completion percentage led all of college football. It wasn’t just a school record, it broke Mac Jones‘ FBS record for single-season completion percentage. Nix was second in the FBS in passing yards only behind Penix (4,903) last season. He let the nation in passing touchdowns, and while some full-season starters like Florida State’s Jordan Travis and Penn State’s Drew Allar had few interceptions (2), neither were producing near the yardage and touchdowns of Nix. But scouts and coaches focus on much more than numbers when it comes to the draft.

Physically, Nix is not the prototype for a quarterback, but his body type works for the game he plays. While Nix set records with his arm this year, he still projects best as dual-threat passer. Some of his best throws come on the run and without his feet set, and he uses strong footwork to avoid tacklers in a collapsing pocket. He benefited from most of his production coming off quick, one-look passes, but those plays fit his quick release and strong arm.

Nix still showed the ability to throw all over the field and was productive using play fakes to open routes up down the field. He is a strong runner and, though he did sustain a pair of ankle injuries through high school and college, any questions of his toughness were put to rest when he broke Colt McCoy and Kellen Moore‘s NCAA records for most starts in a career for a quarterback with 61.

So, why isn’t Nix going No. 1 overall? Mainly, quarterbacks with Nix’s style of play have not generally fared well in the NFL. They have not fared poorly (see Mariota, Baker Mayfield, Tyrod Taylor), but they never really stick out around the league’s best. Coaches have nitpicked a lack of patience that does not allow routes to develop and open up. Nix also can rely on his great arm strength as a catch-all, affecting his accuracy and forcing his receivers to make some uncomfortable grabs. Teams also will not like that he is 24 years old entering the NFL draft. It’s not quite on the level of Brandon Weeden (the NFL’s oldest-ever first-round pick at 28 years old), but he’s already the same age as Trevor Lawrence.

Nix presents a mixed bag coming into the draft. He provided outstanding production through the air and on the ground at the collegiate level. Though his style of play isn’t tailormade for the NFL, Nix has proven to be very coachable. After three different coordinators in his first three seasons and a change of schools, Nix continued to improve year after year, going from a 57.6 completion percentage as a freshman to the FBS record-holder in the stat. He has been lauded for his academics and leadership with his coaches calling him “another coach” on the field, and he only got better each year.

There is plenty to suggest that Nix could struggle to be elite at the next level, but with his tools and drive, it’s hard to imagine that he won’t get a chance as a starter at some point.

Now, where does a player like that go in the draft? Most see Nix as a likely Day 2 pick, though an early run of quarterbacks could force a team’s hand if they truly want Nix, and there isn’t an absence of teams who do. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, there is an assumption in league circles that, if Nix goes in the first round, it will be to the Broncos. While some speculate that Denver could trade up to select McCarthy, many like Nix better as a stylistic fit with head coach Sean Payton. The Broncos do not have a second-round pick, so they may opt to trade back from No. 12, collect more draft capital, and draft Nix to compete with the newly acquired Zach Wilson.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter warns not to dismiss the Rams, either. Schefter points to general manager Les Snead, who was a graduate assistant coach at Auburn in 1993, when Nix’s father, Patrick, was the Tigers’ quarterback. With some speculation that Penix could be the fifth passer coming off the board as high as No. 8 overall, do not rule out Los Angeles taking Matthew Stafford‘s heir apparent at No. 19.

The speculation does not stop there. With mere days remaining until the draft begins, there is no shortage of possibilities for how the event may play out. Nix could join the others in the first round, or he could freefall into the middle of the draft. Regardless, some NFL team should be adding a coachable, fast-learning competitor later this week.

View Comments (7)