Denver Broncos select former Oregon QB Bo Nix with the 12th pick in the NFL draft

NFL Draft Broncos Football
FILE – Oregon quarterback Bo Nix looks to pass against Washington during the first half of the Pac-12 championship NCAA college football game Dec. 1, 2023, in Las Vegas. The Denver Broncos drafted former Nix with the 12th pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, April 25, 2024. (AP Photo/David Becker, File)

By Arnie Stapleton/AP

The sixth quarterback selected in the 2024 NFL draft was No. 1 in the Denver Broncos' eyes.

The Broncos bypassed a bevy of blue-chip defenders to draft former Oregon quarterback Bo Nix with the 12th pick Thursday night.

Denver has churned through 13 starting quarterbacks since Peyton Manning retired as a Super Bowl champion following the 2015 season. None of the signal-callers who have followed him has been able to lead Denver back to the playoffs.

Their eight-year playoff drought is exacerbated by seven straight losing seasons and watching Patrick Mahomes lead division rival Kansas City to three Super Bowl parades in five years, including the past two.

There was plenty of speculation the Broncos would have to move up to get in on the quarterback run, but they've already unloaded three first-round draft picks since 2022, including two in the Russell Wilson trade that didn't work out.

Ultimately, they didn't have to part with any picks to get the quarterback they wanted. Nix was the sixth QB selected, behind Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, who were taken 1-2-3, Michael Penix Jr. (eighth) and J.J. McCarthy (10th).

“I wasn't shocked. I think the six of us, we're all capable of playing at the next level,” Nix said. “It's going to be fun to watch everybody and see how they develop. I wasn't shocked at all because I think this class of quarterbacks was very strong.”

Nix joins a quarterback room that includes newly acquired Zach Wilson, whom the Broncos traded for Monday after the 2021 second overall pick had three disappointing seasons with the New York Jets.

Also on the roster is Jarrett Stidham, who split his two starts last season after coach Sean Payton benched Russell Wilson, ad Ben DiNucci.

“Well, I know everybody has to compete, I know everybody has to go to work,” Nix said. “We haven't had any conversations thus far past draft prep. But I just can't wait to get around the locker room, I can't wait to get around the guys, meet all my new teammates, meet coaches and get to work.”

Russell Wilson signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but remains the highest-paid player on Denver's roster because the Broncos will pay $37.79 million of his $39 million salary in 2024. That's on top of the $85 million in dead cap charges they'll absorb over the next two years.

After three solid seasons at Auburn, Nix had two terrific seasons at Oregon, where he threw for 74 touchdowns with 10 interceptions and he completed almost 75% of his passes in 27 games.

Now he's ready to lead Denver out of its nearly decade-long doldrums.

He thanked the Broncos for “putting their beliefs in me.”

“And there's a lot in the future that's going to need to be done, a lot of work to be done, a lot of growing and a lot of getting better,” Nix said. "But again, I just appreciate the value they had in me.”

Nix is the first player the Broncos have selected in the first round since 2021, when they chose cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the ninth overall pick.