The Seldom Considered Passer Who May Become Minnesota’s Next QB1 by the End of April

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
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Lately, the hype suggests that Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, or J.J. McCarthy is soon to take over as Minnesota’s next QB1, the passer capable of propelling the Vikings into a prosperous future. Does that discussion miss anyone? Is there a world where Oregon’s Bo Nix could get added?

The simple fact that Nix doesn’t get a lot of airtime doesn’t mean he’s definitively out of the running to be chosen by Minnesota.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah recently encouraged caution with the mock draft prophecies, reminding us that even the franchise itself is uncertain about how the 2024 NFL Draft is going to unfold. Lindsey Young from the team’s website relays the word: “You know, the mock draft season is here, so I think people are probably thinking they know with more certainty what we’re gonna do than the Vikings do.”

And while the safest bet is probably that the Vikings make their move up, Adofo-Mensah’s words shouldn’t be brushed off. He is, after all, the one making the final decisions on who gets drafted.

Envision a scenario where the cost to get into the Top 3 or Top 5 is exorbitant. Maybe Minnesota’s young executive declines to jump up, instead opting to sit back and see how the board unfolds. At No. 11, a tremendous defender who is too good to pass up arrives, so Minnesota pounces (The 33rd Team explores this precise scenario in a recent mock).

Can the team swing around to the quarterback position at No. 23? If so, does Nix make sense?

The Uncertainty about Minnesota’s Next QB1 and The Appeal of Bo Nix

Start with basic numbers.

At 6’2”, 214, Nix has a nice build to play quarterback. A bit taller would be preferable but we’re not talking about Drew Brees, Kyler Murray, or Doug Flutie.

Nov 19, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) passes against the Houston Texans in the second half at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Nix completed 77.4% of his passes for 4,508 yards, 45 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Wildly impressive numbers even if the Oregon system helped. Don’t forget: Kevin O’Connell values accuracy above all else, with brains coming in at a close second.

Oh, and keep in mind that Nix has a combined 20 rushing touchdowns over his final pair of seasons in college.

The scouting blurb offers plenty of reason for optimism: “Nix displays the accuracy, arm talent and athleticism consistent with today’s brand of pro quarterback. He can be punctual in getting the ball out at the top of his drop or he can work through progressions and beat defenses with second-reaction plays. He throws with good velocity and puts the ball on the money when throwing on the move. Nix has shown great improvement with his pocket poise. He’s capable of moving the sticks as a scrambler or as part of the running game.”

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Jan 1, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) throws against the Liberty Flames during the 2024 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

And then PFF recently published a piece that identifies which QB prospects were the best at certain aspects of the position. Nix sees disproportionate representation, claiming the top spot (either outright or in a tie) for his “Pressured Grade,” “Blitzed Grade,” “Throws Past the Sticks Grade,” “Intermediate Passing Grade,” “First- and Second-Down Grade,” “Third- and Fourth-Down Grade,” and “Outside the Pocket Grade.”

Now, the hesitation is that some of Nix’s excellence was the byproduct of what Oregon offered. The NFL scouting blurb makes that point: “Some of his gaudy production has been driven by the Oregon offense’s design.” So, too, will his age – he’s 24 – be seen “as a negative,” as PFF suggests.

One wonders, though, about Bo Nix fitting into what Minnesota is looking to accomplish.

Dec 1, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) throws the ball under pressure from Washington Huskies defensive end Bralen Trice (8) in the second half of the Pac-12 Championship game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When discussing what a Kevin O’Connell QB needs to be able to do, Adofo-Mensah has pointed toward a pair of levels. First, there is the ability to work “on schedule” by fulfilling the intended design and progression, delivering the ball in good timing and with good accuracy. But then there’s the second component: when the play breaks down. Sometimes, the play call doesn’t result in an open man; the GM discusses this situation by explaining the merits of a QB with the ability to “overcome context.”

In other words, can the QB still find a way of succeeding when the plan breaks down? Adofo-Mensah will be enthusiastic about adding whichever QB is capable of doing those things.

Nix, per PFF, did a nice job of handling pressure and of making plays outside of the pocket. Does that translate to the NFL? Can that translate to the Vikings’ context more specifically?

At the end of the day, an aggressive move to jump up high in the draft is still the likeliest outcome. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t totally write off Bo Nix as an option for the Vikings. The young passer did a lot of good things in college, so don’t outright dismiss the idea that he could get added.

Editor’s Note: Information for Sports Reference CFB helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.