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The Fallacy Of Bo Nix Criticism: The Arm Talent Is Not Lacking

We had quarterback Bo Nix as our No. 2 overall prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft, right up there with Caleb Williams. We have been on somewhat of an island all spring regarding Nix, believing that he has all the makings of a premier NFL quarterback. At the same time, Nix has gotten more unfounded criticism than any top prospect in years, and it’s a story we’ve seen before.


Two-time MVP Lamar Jackson, who had to deal with high-profile outside talk about how he could not play quarterback at the next level and should switch to receiver, is someone that was a prime example of a disconnect between many “evaluations” and what’s really happening on the field. I had no idea what those people were watching at the time, to be honest. Our love for Josh Allen as the top quarterback and a deserving No. 1 overall selection in that same 2018 draft is well documented. In some ways, 2018 was a litmus test for quarterback evaluation.


Fast forward to today, and Bo Nix is arguably a similar litmus test. Like Allen and Jackson six years ago, supporters of Nix were few and far between. Ostensibly, Sean Payton is the only person out there that had a Round 1 grade on the former Auburn and Oregon quarterback. (That’s ignoring the reported likelihood of Sean McVay, Les Snead, and the Rams being set to take Nix if he was available for them.)


If you were to search Bo Nix’s name on X/Twitter leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft and following the Broncos taking him with the No. 12 pick, you would have seen streams of very odd and baseless criticism very similar to what Allen (and Jackson to a lesser extent overall) went through in 2018.


“Draft X/Twitter” included takes such as Nix having a weak arm, not having arm talent overall, only throwing checkdowns, his selection by Denver being an “abomination,” and there never being “a more obvious bust pick” than Nix. Much of the criticism felt personal, which I have trouble understanding.


While mainstream outlets like NFL Network and ESPN were not too hard on Nix, their analysts still asserted a supposed physical/talent limitation of the 2023 Heisman Trophy finalist. It felt like a classic case of groupthink.


There is no guarantee that Nix is a successful NFL quarterback, but this analysis—and in the case of “Draft X/Twitter” I would not call it analysis but instead spewing nonsense—is a total fallacy in my opinion. While we can all have different opinions of prospects entering the league, it’s patently false to declare that Nix doesn’t have arm talent—and that’s what I want to focus on here. Simply put, the tape does not lie.


In the Holiday Bowl a couple of seasons ago (against Drake Maye and North Carolina), Nix led a fourth-quarter comeback and displayed his talent throughout the game. A couple of plays we’ll highlight display Nix’s ability to calmly roll outside the pocket and made precise throws on the run like some of the best quarterbacks in league history have done (the second play did not count, but it still showcases Nix’s skill level):




Also, without really setting his feet, he threw a Matthew Stafford-like dart on the back-shoulder of his receiver where things get tight near the end zone.



Moving to the Oregon State game from last year, there are a couple plays that highlight the variety of Nix’s arm talent. Here, he layers the ball with just the right pace and touch to get it up and over the underneath defender:



Toward the end of the first half, Nix rolled right and threw a ball across his body and to the total opposite side of the field to hit Troy Franklin for a touchdown:



That’s not a lack of arm strength or arm talent.


In the Pac-12 Championship, Nix was rolling to his right before quickly and subtly getting into position to throw a strike to Tez Johnson:



Again, it’s subtle, but Nix’s feet appear to be off the ground while driving the ball. It’s basically a mini jump throw that we’ve seen from many of the top gunslingers in today’s game. Did the critics just miss plays like this?


There was also this quick-trigger throw against Washington where he was under pressure and smoothly flicked the ball out there—right on the money—for a touchdown:



And finally, Nix had this insane play where he ducked under a would-be sacker before whipping out a quick pass:



That’s a Houdini-like play that showcases that Nix does have plenty of natural ability and arm talent. In fact, these plays display a Patrick Mahomes-like ability—and that’s not to compare Nix to Mahomes; but it is to state that he’s closer to that arm talent level than the “terrible” ability many of the critics think he has. Just imagine the attention that last play would have gotten if it was Mahomes that made it.


I wanted to focus on the arm talent, but I haven’t mentioned Nix’s ability to go through reads, run more pro concepts than most quarterbacks entering the league (despite what you hear about Oregon’s offense), get rid of the ball lightning-fast to avoid sacks, do damage as a runner, and a mastery at the line of scrimmage.


The analysis out there felt eerily similar to 2018 with Allen and Jackson getting unfounded criticism during the pre-draft process and early into their careers. It felt like The Twilight Zone. People didn’t want to admit that Allen was good even when he showcased his unquestionable skill early in his career. We were getting laughed at by mainstream people as late as 2020 when Allen was obviously an elite player.


As stated earlier, no one really knows how things are going to turn out. While having Sean Payton as his coach is great, the Broncos probably need to add more talent around Nix—on both sides of the ball—for him to be as great as we believe he can be.


However, the arm talent is not a question. Any doubters of that seem to be watching the game in another dimension.