Despite being a starting quarterback in the SEC for three full seasons, Auburn QB and former 2022 NFL Draft prospect Bo Nix has often been the butt of the joke. As polarizing as Nix may be as a college quarterback, a deeper dive into his scouting report unearths surprising potential. Nix isn’t a punchline. He’s a legitimate NFL Draft prospect. But can he carve out an NFL career?
Update: Bo Nix has announced his decision to transfer to Oregon for the 2022 season. He will not enter the 2022 NFL Draft.
Bo Nix NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Auburn
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 214 pounds
Bo Nix Scouting Report
Bad throws are bad throws. There’s no getting around that. But some quarterbacks have the physical tools to make bad decisions work. The decision remains less than ideal, and better decisions are encouraged in the future. Yet, that ideal doesn’t change the fact that raw traits alone can accomplish a great deal.
Now, NFL quarterbacks need a lot more than raw traits. But those unteachable traits are rare. If you can find a quarterback who makes the bad throws work, he might just be worth molding. This is the kind of conversation we need to have about Auburn QB Bo Nix. Nix makes the bad throws work sometimes. Still, he must change his game to minimize the bad throws and maximize the good ones.
Bo Nix’s physical profile
Few quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft have the universal potential that Nix has. Nix has a strong frame at 6’3″, 214 pounds, and he’s a great athlete for the position. He has the burst and speed to extend plays and stay on his feet. He also has the play strength to shed tackles in the pocket.
Nix’s athleticism gives him a superb off-script foundation, making him a formidable rushing threat on read options and other designed runs. Athleticism, of course, is only half the puzzle for quarterbacks from a physical standpoint. The arm is the second component and just as important.
Luckily, Nix checks this box as well — and checks it emphatically. Nix has great raw arm talent. The Auburn QB generates easy velocity without strain and solid velocity on the run. Nix has an incredibly elastic arm; he can adjust his throwing angles with a whip-like release.
Nix’s elasticity allows him to throw with pace from countless platforms, even when throwing across his body on the run or when fading backward. With his arm strength and elasticity, he can hit tight windows down the field and flashes the ability to play to receiver leverage with his ball placement.
Nix’s upper body is almost unhinged off-platform; he has extremely rare natural ability off-script. The Auburn QB can make great plays off-script with his raw physical traits alone, which creates plenty of excitement for his developmental potential.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Most of the appeal with Nix comes from his physical foundation. However, the Auburn QB isn’t an impact creator from an executional standpoint. Nix has a lot to work on, but there are flashes of modest growth at times.
While Nix’s accuracy is largely a work in progress, the Auburn QB has flashed the ability to place the ball for back-shoulder passes, as well as for yards after catch in the short range. He’s shown that he at least understands receiver leverage to an extent, and he proactively adjusts his trajectory on the run at times.
When in structure, Nix has shown he can square his hips and shoulders to maximize torque. He also seemed to make a more concerted effort to hang tough in the pocket more often in 2020, although with similarly mixed results. At times, Nix has flashed anticipation and the ability to identify and attack windows downfield. Still, Nix needs to be more consistent with his decision-making overall.
Areas for improvement
Nix has tantalizing potential, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. At the same time, projects don’t always work out. If Nix wants to reach his full potential, he has a ton of work to do.
Mechanically and mentally, Nix is treacherously inconsistent, and many of his accuracy issues stem from mechanical lapses. His lower-body mechanics are streaky, and his footwork can be lazy and uncoordinated at the height of his drop. Nix sometimes has a staggered rotation when passing, which interrupts his hip torque. He also lets his feet fade backward often when faced with pressure.
Nix’s accuracy wanes when he rushes through his mechanics, but that isn’t the biggest issue. The Auburn QB has a lot of room for growth mentally. Nix doesn’t always anticipate route breaks, and his timing can suffer as a result. At times, he stares down targets, preemptively locking onto targets and forcing throws even against tight coverage. He doesn’t have much quality progression work on tape, and his decision-making is suspect.
Going further, Nix’s pocket poise is not good. He’s easily scared out of clean pockets, even by hints of pressure. He sometimes forces the ball upfield when faced with quick pressure, but more often, he rolls out of the pocket, creating broken plays.
Among other things, Nix sails passes high even when in structure. Additionally, he needs to engage in more eye manipulation, as safeties at the NFL level will read him easily.
Bo Nix’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
Nix has early-round upside. No, that’s not a typo. It’s not a cheap ploy for clout. With his athleticism, high-level arm talent, and natural off-script ability, Nix has the perfect physical foundation for the modern NFL. On the flip side, Nix’s lack of mental and mechanical refinement could render him a late-round pick or even an undrafted free agent.
Nix tries a lot of suspect throws — against windows that shouldn’t be tested — but he has the tools to make them. Furthermore, Nix may have more mental acuity than he gets credit for. The problem is, he rarely stays in the pocket long enough to show consistency in structure or amass any experience going through his progressions.
Nix rarely has a chance to work with what he sees — either by his own fault or his offensive line’s. He’s almost more comfortable off-script, but his eagerness to roll out creates a lot of unneeded chaos.
Nix has shown brief but true flashes of anticipation. Yet, the Auburn QB needs to learn to reel himself in, trust his surroundings, and maximize himself within structure. If he can do that, his off-script ability will become a competitive advantage — rather than his only means of survival.
The hope is that moving to Oregon and reuniting with his former offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham can unlock Nix’s upside. Because, contrary to popular perception, there are several traits to mold.
Nix’s career at Auburn
Nix’s collegiate career has been more well-documented than most — but not for all the right reasons. Nix is a polarizing figure due largely to the discrepancy between his on-field accomplishments and his outside perception as a player. Nix won SEC Freshman of the Year in 2019, but many thought LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. should have won the award instead.
Nix had a solid true freshman season, no doubt. But his 2,542 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions didn’t earn him respect over Stingley — especially with a 57.6% completion percentage. A slight regression in 2020 — 2,415 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions — confirmed the narrative that Nix was overrated by the vast majority and undeserving of his starting role.
So it came as a surprise in the 2021 offseason when quarterback trainer Jordan Palmer came out and said Nix could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Palmer gushed about Nix — but less so about his physical traits and more about his mental makeup.
“There are the two things I look at — confidence and maturity –before arm talent, before size, before any of that,” Palmer said, per ESPN. “Nix is more confident and mature than most of the guys I’ve ever been around.”
Nix’s 2021 season and transfer decision
Unfortunately for Nix, playing under new coach Bryan Harsin would not be the move to kickstart his development. Nix played well early on in the 2021 season, but his consistency waned as the Tigers wandered further into SEC play.
Several times, Nix was benched in-game in favor of T.J. Finley. Overall, in ten games, he completed 197 of 323 passes (61%) for 2,294 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. He also added 158 yards and 4 scores on the ground.
Ahead of Auburn’s bowl game against Houston, Nix announced his decision to transfer from the school he’d started at for the past three seasons. Not long after that, he made his decision official. He would be joining Dan Lanning’s new staff at Oregon, succeeding 2021 starter Anthony Brown.
Bo Nix’s NFL Draft ascension
Nix has a lot of work to do before he confirms Palmer’s premonition and follows in the footsteps of Joe Burrow, Baker Mayfield, and other illustrious signal-callers. As of now, Nix is much closer to being a Day 3 pick. He’s not as developed as he needs to be with his progressions and his pocket presence. And in structure, he’s too inconsistent to be considered as an NFL starter.
Having said that, Nix’s best college season came under Dillingham, who’s once again his offensive coordinator at Oregon. He’ll also have a stellar defense to lean on. If Nix can use this familiarity and strong supporting talent to improve his pocket poise and iron out the finer details of the QB position in year four, he has the athleticism, top-end arm talent, and off-platform ability coveted in early draft picks.
For Nix, an early-round leap is a lot to ask for. But we’ve seen crazier things happen. Above all else, he has the tools to reset his perception and catalyze a rise. Now, he has until the 2023 NFL Draft to make that happen.