As quarterbacks flew off the board early, the Denver Broncos were left with one man in Bo Nix.

Entering Thursday night, the Broncos’ quarterback room consisted of Zach Wilson, Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci, and the team had little draft capital to trade up.

But Denver sure seems happy with the guy who fell in their lap.

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Bo Nix celebrates against USC

Bo Nix of the Oregon Ducks celebrates a touchdown pass in the first half of a game against the USC Trojans at Autzen Stadium Nov. 11, 2023, in Eugene, Ore.  (Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images)

“He’s extremely intelligent, really smart. He handled a lot of the protections,” Payton said Thursday night, shortly after the Broncos took the Oregon quarterback. 

“When you watch him, it’s pretty calming. He’s very efficient, and it’s not just because of the [underneath throws]. You see a ton of NFL throws in their offense.”

Payton even joked that he was getting frustrated when analysts hyped Nix up.

“Once we knew this was our target … I would be like, ‘Shh! Can you be quiet?'” he said.

“Look, I think that a lot of times the offense gets built around the player. So, we moved in a direction for years relative to what [former QB] Drew [Brees] did. But when he wasn’t starting, it was [former QB] Teddy [Bridgewater] or [QB] Jameis [Winston]. So it wasn’t like ‘this guy fits our system,’ because our system — let’s just say if it was another quarterback. 

“We want the best player. We did our best to talk about other players and directions. It’s difficult sometimes. You don’t want everyone to know that this is the player. But I saw what you guys saw. I would cringe and (general manager) George (Paton) would cringe. We’re like, ‘Ah!’ Those are things you can’t control.”

Bo Nix looks on after losing to Washington

Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix after the Pac-12 Conference championship game against the Washington Huskies Dec. 1, 2023, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.  (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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The selection of Nix made NFL Draft history. He was the sixth QB taken when he was selected at No. 12, the fewest number of picks used to draft that many signal-callers.

It was just the second time six quarterbacks were taken in the first round, matching the legendary 1983 class, but four of those QBs were selected from pick 14 on.

Nix began his collegiate career at Auburn, where he played three seasons but never really shined with the Tigers. He transferred to Oregon in 2022, and after 13 games, he set career highs in yards (3,593), touchdowns (29) and completion percentage (71.9). 

Bo Nix look on field

Quarterback Bo Nix of the Oregon Ducks walks off the field during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl against the Liberty Flames at State Farm Stadium Jan. 1, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. The Ducks defeated the Flames 45-6. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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But 2023 was easily his best year. He broke out for 4,509 yards and 45 touchdowns and a 77.4% completion rate. 

Fox News’ Scott Thompson contributed to this report.

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