Eyebrows raised league-wide when the Denver Broncos selected Bo Nix with the No. 12 overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft. Was the University of Oregon product really worthy of being anointed as a franchise quarterback at the next level? Broncos coach Sean Payton certainly thought so, and has seemingly grown even more confident in Nix as offseason activities ramp up.

After just two full practices in minicamp, Payton lauded the rookie signal-caller for his ability to quickly process information and implement it on the field.

“It's almost like watching a good golfer,” he said of Nix, per ESPN's Jeff Legwold. “Sometimes when you watch his game over two years, there's a patience to how he plays. The ball comes out, and — I don't want to use the term boring, that's not the right term, but pretty good decisions. With each play, the efficiency of how he's operating, and all of that. … So oftentimes, your first exposure to huddle, snap count, verbiage, that can be challenging, but I thought he threw it well.”

Don't read too much into Payton's “boring” assessment of Nix's performance so far, Broncos fans. No one should be under any delusion he boasts elite physical tools in terms of arm talent nor overall athleticism for an NFL quarterback. A five-star high school recruit, Nix finally lived up to that status after transferring to Oregon in large part due to the increased quickness and consistency of his decision-making.

Enter the league at 24 years old with a whopping five seasons of starting experience at the college level, Nix should have a major leg up on most other first-year quarterbacks in terms of comfort learning the NFL game. Still, Nix admits he's already benefiting from Payton's approach of easing his acclimation to the league.

“[Payton] has built a pedigree; when he talks, you listen,” he said. ” … It can be a lot; I think I'm being taught really well. [They're] doing a good job of narrowing everything down, making it simple so I can just get up there and process and play fast.”

Broncos' quarterback competition includes Bo Nix, Zach Wilson and Jarrett Stidham

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix (QB07) during the 2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nix's wealth of experience and status as a first-round pick makes it easy to assume he'll open his career as Denver's starting quarterback. The relative with which he's apparently picking up Payton's offensive concepts in minicamp lends further credence to that possibility.

The Broncos definitely aren't just giving Nix keys to the car without making him earn it, though. Jarrett Stidham remains in Denver after backing up Russell Wilson last season, and the front office traded for former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson just a couple days before submitting Nix's name on draft night.

Stidham and Wilson certainly haven't hit their ceilings in the NFL so far, but are blessed with rare arm strength and velocity that Nix lacks, not to mention years' worth of studying professional playbooks and film. While this outcome would no doubt disappoint many fans, Nix could still be the Broncos' quarterback of the future even if he loses out to either veteran in what Payton has deemed as a wide-open competition at quarterback leading up to the 2024 season-opener.

“So [Hall of Famer] Bill [Parcells] taught me a long time ago — just let them play,” Payton said earlier this month, per ESPN. “We have to maximize the reps that we have, and let them develop, and that stuff will sort itself out.”