2024 Denver Broncos Draft Thoughts

By “2024 Denver Broncos Draft”, I of course mean “Bo Nix”. It’s been a number of years since I’ve dedicated enough time to pre-draft research to have informed opinions about any but the top draft picks, and the intervening years have convinced me that even a lifetime dedictaed to researching and analyzing college prospects will only marginally improve your ability to project success at the pro level. A few weeks of crammed reading of others’ analysis might be interesting or fun, but it isn’t useful.

With that said, I do enjoy thinking about team building, and I am a Broncos fan. While I let the Russell Wilson era/disaster go by without breaking out the ol’ blog, the Broncos rarely draft QBs, and have only drafted one higher than the 12th overall pick just spent on Bo Nix – the 11th overall pick used to take Jay Cutler in the 2006 NFL Draft.

So what do I THINK about Bo Nix? He was my least favourite of the 6 QB prospects, almost entirely because of his age. However, Sean Payton seems to genuinely be excited by the idea of having him as his QB, and Sean Payton’s QB evaluation is much more valuable to me than my own. If this felt like a consolation or desperation move, I’d feel differently, but Nix seems to have always been the guy for Payton. Good enough for me.

What I DO have thoughts on are why the Broncos took him, and some of the thinking around why that was a bad idea. One of my favourite NFL Analysts, Robert Mays, has been critical of the pick, pointing out that while eating the dead cap from releasing Russell Wilson (~$50 million in 2024, ~$35 million in 2025), you’re not going to be competitive. You simply do not have the resources to build a competitive roster.

I think this critique is rooted in the “QB Rookie Contract” theory of team building – The salary discrepancy between a QB on a rookie contract and any contract negotiated by them is so vast that you can fit meaningful contracts into the space. That value cannot be realized at any other time during a team’s construction cycle, and so a rookie QB should, in a complete reversal of old school conventional thinking, be the final piece of a rebuilding process.

This generally makes sense, but I think it is reductive. Obviously, this is the preferable way of building a team, because the delta between a slotted rookie contract and a negotiated contract is largest for QBs, so realizing that delta of value is the ideal way.

But it also requires a team building process that intentionally goes without a preferred QB while you build the rest of the roster up – AND it requires that your team be in a position to go get a rookie QB who can come in and play right away when the time is right. You must build out your offensive line and weapons, and build a sustainable defense, while also not being so good as to have your draft pick be worth enough to either get the guy, or be part of a package to trade up and get the guy.

If you have complete faith in your GM, and your GM has complete job security such that they don’t feel the need to compete for 3-6 years while you accomplish the goal of getting your roster ready for a rookie QB to come in, then by all means, go for it.

Setting aside the reasons why this FO didn’t want to pursue a path like that(Payton’s age, Paton’s hot seat, the Walton-Penner group’s desire to have their new team be a winner), I think the Broncos roster is not as bad as many have made it out to seem. The early 2024 NFL Power Rankings all seem to have the Chiefs, the Eagles, the Bengals, the Lions, the Bills, and the Ravens in the top 10. All have QBs on market contracts. All of these teams (even setting the Chiefs aside) can compete for the title this year, and will do so (with one exception) thanks to their QB being great or better.

Is Bo Nix a great QB? We shall see. If your thought is that he won’t make it as a good QB in the NFL, I’ll only take your word for it if you’re a seasoned NFL Scout – And even then, there’s gonna be other seasoned NFL scouts who disagree with you. But saying that the Broncos shouldn’t have drafted him because of where they are in their rebuilding cycle doesn’t hold water. Teams shouldn’t tear down to the studs unless they’re already in the basement, and great players can elevate their team mates.

That said, if we totally sucks and end up with the first overall pick next year, let’s just take Sanders.

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