History not on Broncos rookie QB Bo Nix's side in major statistical category

Can Bo Nix do something not even 20 rookie QBs have ever done?
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Although Broncos Country has every right to be excited about rookie first-round pick Bo Nix, history is not on his side when it comes to one major statistical category. The Denver Broncos are one of the NFL teams that has had an extremely rare amount of success without drafting a franchise quarterback pretty much ever. Even though John Elway's situation is more of a technicality than anything else, let's be real about it. Success for rookie quarterbacks is rare, and what's even more rare than general success is rookie quarterbacks throwing for a lot of touchdowns.

The Broncos' passing attack may not have been consistent or productive enough last year (24th in yards, 22nd in yards per attempt, and 30th in passing 1st down percentage), but they were somehow pretty great in the passing touchdown category (8th). The Broncos had 28 total passing touchdowns last season, 26 of which were thrown by Russell Wilson and two of which were thrown by Jarrett Stidham.

Having 28 total passing touchdowns over the course of the season was the result of a number of factors, including the huge number of turnovers the defense forced during the Broncos' impressive mid-season winning streak. One primary contributing factor was the team's inability to punch the ball into the end zone on the ground. The Broncos had just 8 rushing touchdowns in 2023, which ranked 28th in the NFL.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, like I said before, Bo Nix is going to be working against history if he's going to help the Broncos' offense actually improve in the passing game as many believe he can, even as early as this season. Not that passing touchdowns are the only important metric, but the more touchdown passes Nix throws, the more likely the Broncos are to be actually competitive.

In the Super Bowl era, only 18 quarterbacks have thrown for 20-plus touchdowns. This is a rather staggering stat when you really think about it. It feels like quarterbacks can throw 20 touchdowns in their sleep these days, but historically speaking, that has been a borderline impossible hurdle to clear for rookies coming into the league. Over the last 10 years, it's happened nine times. The good news for Bo Nix and other rookie signal callers in 2024? It's happened every year since 2018, save for the dreadful 2022 quarterback class (Kenny Pickett).

Can Bo Nix reach the 20-touchdown mark as a rookie? Well, he's not in Eugene anymore. Nix threw 74 touchdown passes over the last two seasons, but the NFL is a different level completely. It's going to be tough to reach that 20-touchdown mark. And history says that if he can do it, he's likely going to get recognized substantially:

2023 -- CJ Sroud: NFL offensive rookie of the year
2021 -- Mac Jones: NFL offensive rookie of the year runner-up
2020 -- Justin Herbert: NFL offensive rookie of the year
2019 -- Kyler Murray: NFL offensive rookie of the year
2018 -- Baker Mayfield: NFL offensive rookie of the year runner-up
2016 -- Dak Prescott: NFL offensive rookie of the year

You get the idea. Based on recent league history, there's a very good chance that if Bo Nix throws for 20 or more touchdown passes in 2024, he will either win or finish as the runner-up in NFL offensive rookie of the year voting. But it's important to remember: Most quarterbacks that have been drafted in recent years aren't on that list.