Sean Payton had ex-Auburn football QB Bo Nix ahead of Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, and Michael Penix at 2024 draft

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According to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton had ex-Oregon and Auburn football QB Bo Nix ahead of Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, and Michael Penix on his 2024 NFL draft board.

"No, Storm," Breer prefaced before saying, "They had Nix as third among the quarterbacks. They would’ve taken him over Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy and Michael Penix Jr. And since it’s Payton making this call, I think it really is worth paying attention to.

"Payton saw in Nix an efficient quarterback who played faster, and more mistake-free, than any other quarterback in the class. The Denver Broncos also saw, after witnessing him in person, a physically sturdier player—with big hands and a big lower half—than some made him out to be and with a stronger arm than most thought."

Sean Payton believes ex-Oregon and Auburn football QB Bo Nix was No. 3 behind Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels

Ipso facto, the only quarterbacks Payton would've picked ahead of Nix were Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels, the winner of the past two Heisman winners.

Evidently, the team success McCarthy had at Michigan -- where he was admittedly carried by a RB room led by Blake Corum -- and Penix had at Washington didn't sway Payton, who saw Nix as the best system fit. Maye didn't lead UNC to any meaningful success, though that didn't affect his draft stock at all.

One unnamed NFL exec put faith in Nix excelling in Payton's system, and for all we know, he can outperform not only the QBs Denver's head coach believed he'd be better than, but even the two Heisman winners who he wouldn't pick Nix ahead of.

It's on Payton to get the most out of a QB who has proven that he needs the right pieces around him to thrive.