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How Bo Nix impressed Sean Payton in his first two practices with the Denver Broncos

Henry Chisholm Avatar
May 11, 2024

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Jonah Elliss remembers the scouting report on Bo Nix.

“He got rid of the ball really freaking fast,” he said. “We knew that.”

Elliss’ Utah Utes hosted the Oregon Ducks quarterbacked by Nix at Rice-Eccles Stadium in October. Nix got rid of the ball as quickly as expected.

“I had a couple of hurries on him, but I never got there,” Elliss said.

Nix’s Ducks won 35-6.

The Denver Broncos selected Nix in the first round of April’s NFL Draft. They used their next pick, a third-rounder, on Elliss. Now the pair are teammates and they’re taking the field for the first time at the Broncos’ rookie mini-camp this weekend.

“I’m excited to watch him play because I don’t think he will get sacked many times,” Elliss said. “He gets rid of the ball so stinking fast.”

The mini-camp practices are not full-speed. They’re halfway between a walk-through and a scrimmage. They aren’t particularly exciting.

Still, head coach Sean Payton is happy with what he’s seen from his rookie quarterback in the first two days.

“It’s almost like watching a good golfer,” Payton said. “Sometimes when you watch his game over two years, there’s a patience to how he plays. The ball comes out, and—I don’t want to use the term ‘boring,’ that’s not the right term, but [he makes] pretty good decisions. With each play, the efficiency of how he’s operating, and all of that.”

Nix has been equally impressed with Payton.

“He’s been awesome,” Nix said on Saturday. “He’s been teaching me so much already. He’s got a lot of knowledge and he’s built a pedigree of when he talks, you listen. That is why I am excited. To continue learning from him more and more each day as we go through practice and walkthroughs. You just can’t learn enough from him.”

The Broncos’ rookie mini-camp is made up of four different types of player. 20 players are draft picks or undrafted rookies who signed contracts with the team. 9 of them are players who were already on the roster but haven’t earned a credited season in the NFL. 2 are professional tryout players who have played in the league. 25 players are rookie tryouts who are trying to earn a contract for training camp.

Of the 56 players on the field this weekend, only about 10 will make the Broncos’ opening-day roster.

But for Nix, the new face of the franchise, this weekend is the first step in proving his leadership chops.

“Just be myself,” Nix said. “You’re not going to be able to do it all at once. It’s going to [be] day-by-day. The most important thing is being a great teammate and learning my new teammates. Being around them and forming great relationships with them. They just want to see guys who can go out there and play hard for each other. That’s what most leaders are able to do.”

The full team will come together on May 21 to kick off four weeks of offseason activities. Only the final week is mandatory.

Nix probably won’t have a full grasp of the Broncos’ offense by then, but he’s working closer every day.

“It’s all about studying and taking one play at a time,” Nix said. “Master it and make sure you know the fundamentals and technique of that play and what the play-caller’s intent is. Essentially, they just want to see you got out and execute it. It’s my job as a quarterback to get the plays started and get the ball where it’s supposed to be. A lot of that is completing passes and run-game operation. It can be a lot but I feel like I’m being taught really well by the coaches. They’re doing a really good job of narrowing everything down and making it simple so I can just get up there, process and play really fast.”

Nix signed his contract this week. The deal came with a $10 million signing bonus. He still hasn’t made a big purchase, and he doesn’t have any plans for the money yet.

“I’m just trying to worry about this offense first,” he said.

Nix seems to have his priorities straight. He recognizes that he’s following in the footsteps of some great quarterbacks in Denver. He’s already heard from Peyton Manning and John Elway.

The opportunity in front of Nix is massive.

“I’m super excited,” he said. “I’ve only been here for a couple of days and can’t wait to get out and about and go see everything. I’m super excited to be here. The city is incredible. I can’t believe I get to wear a Broncos jersey and go out there and do what so many greats have done before me. I don’t take that lightly and I’m not going to take it for granted.”

According to Payton, Nix is checking the most important box.

“Throughout the evaluation process, you’re trying to—not just with the quarterbacks—you’re trying to find these players that are driven,” he said. “It’s the hardest thing to measure all the time. How important is it to them? “

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