Media unfairly painted Sean Payton, Broncos in lose-lose situation with Bo Nix

No one was ever going to paint the Bo Nix selection in a positive light
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Candice Ward/GettyImages

The Denver Broncos are an easy target when it comes to sports media these days, and we're seeing evidence of that all around. The Broncos are being labeled as one of the worst rosters in the league in 2024. They are near the bottom of every post-NFL Draft Power Rankings list that's getting released. They are picking high in early 2025 NFL mock drafts. And people are clowning the Bo Nix selection at #12 overall.

It's understandable. Sean Payton hasn't always been super "likable", so people in the media disliking him is pretty on-brand. But the media has certainly painted a lose-lose scenario for the Broncos this offseason, haven't they?

Former NFL head coach Eric Mangini appeared on The Herd with Colin Cowherd to discuss the Nix selection by the Broncos, and he took the opportunity to degrade the selection. He compared the Broncos going after Bo Nix to "shopping hungry" and said that he felt Sean Payton and the Broncos weren't excited enough in the draft room after picking Bo Nix. He feels like they settled on Nix and truly wanted JJ McCarthy instead.

This clip, which is accompanied by some analysis and reaction from the YouTube user Julian W. Lucas, provides us with a very valuable insight and lens through which to view all of the criticism coming the Denver Broncos' way after drafting Bo Nix 12th overall.

Certain people in the media were never going to let this look like a good pick by the Broncos. Even though everyone and their dog has pegged Nix as the ideal fit for the Denver Broncos for months now, there were so many pundits and commentators out there who insisted that any selection of Bo Nix in the first round would be perceived as a reach, no matter where it took place.

As Lucas points out in his analysis of this clip, the Broncos were put in a lose-lose situation publicly because of the fact that no one was going to believe that they truly wanted Bo Nix unless they made some dramatic trade up the board to get him. Taking Nix at 12 was already pre-determined to be a resignation by the Broncos that they weren't going to be able to get their top target, and that they were "settling" or "reaching" for the 5th or 6th QB on the board.

Indeed, Bo Nix was the 6th quarterback off the board in the 1st round of the 2024 NFL Draft, but he wasn't the 6th quarterback on the Broncos' board, and he wasn't a consolation prize. The Broncos were shopping, but they weren't shopping hungry. They had a guy they wanted, and they felt comfortable staying in the 12th overall slot to get him.

Though, as Payton conceded after the first round was over, they were a little worried when the Atlanta Falcons threw a wrench into things by taking Michael Penix Jr. at #8 overall.

Sean Payton has been putting breadcrumbs out there to follow for a really long time. He warned against following the "NFL train" that tells people what to believe earlier in the offseason. He's talked about the importance of processing and avoiding taking sacks at the quarterback position as things he values.

If you read the tea leaves, the signs have all pointed to Bo Nix for a really long time. But the narrative was always going to be that Sean Payton reached. That the Broncos didn't truly "love" Bo Nix and that they simply "settled" for him.

This hasn't been a unanimous sentiment. The loudest voice is not always going to be the overwhelming majority, but it's a narrative you see frequently enough from talking heads that it needs to be addressed head-on. Julian W. Lucas on YouTube is right -- what was Sean Payton supposed to do? Was trading up and taking Bo Nix the only way he could truly prove to people that he wanted him over other quarterbacks?

ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported that Payton felt as strongly about Nix in this draft process as he did about Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft process. And Payton was jumped by one spot in the 2017 draft by the Chiefs who got Mahomes. Call it hyperbole if you want, but Payton has also never taken a quarterback in the 1st or 2nd round. The Broncos' only insurance before the NFL Draft was a dart throw on Zach Wilson.

The NFL Draft was clearly the plan all along, and Bo Nix was clearly one of their top guys at the position. The Broncos have been accused of settling, reaching, and panic-drafting. The narratives out there that this team didn't really want Bo Nix are obviously false. If the Broncos didn't really want Bo Nix, they could have taken someone else at 12 or traded down and risked another team drafting him.

But it wasn't just the Broncos who had interest in Nix in the first round, either. The Raiders were a threat to take him at 13 and the Los Angeles Rams had interest in him at pick 19. There were even rumors on Draft day that the Rams could try and jump the Broncos to take Nix.

The media consensus on Bo Nix is not the same as the NFL consensus on Bo Nix. Nix was clearly well-liked in NFL circles and while he wasn't unanimously considered a 1st-round prospect, he also wasn't unanimously a Day 2 prospect like many are making it seem.