The NFL Draft is steadily approaching as one of the first events to kick off draft season is less than a week away, the Senior Bowl. For the Las Vegas Raiders, that will be one of their first opportunities to meet with one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft class, Bo Nix from Oregon.
Nix is coming off of an excellent campaign where he threw for nearly 4,500 yards and 45 touchdowns with just three interceptions while setting the NCAA single-season record for completion percentage at 77.3 percent. He also added another 256 yards and six touchdowns with his legs and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
The Oregon product is a dynamic playmaker and might be the Raiders’ best option at quarterback with the 13th overall pick, so let’s dive into the tape and see what he can bring to the table.
Bo Nix with a beautiful layered pass pic.twitter.com/3HxE7qZ2jv— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) January 23, 2024
We’ll get things going with a few nice throws from a clean pocket.
Oregon State is playing Cover 1 and Oregon has a good play call to beat man coverage with the outside receiver at the top of the screen running a drag route, forcing the cornerback to sift through the trash. However, a linebacker or low-hole defender does a good job of recognizing that and works for depth to help his teammate.
That tightens the throwing window for Nix as he now has to layer the ball over the backer while still putting enough velocity on it to make the throw from the far hash to the top of the numbers. He ends up delivering a perfect pass that’s high enough so the linebacker can’t get to it while still having plenty of zip on the ball so that it’s still on a rope and hits the receiver in stride.
That’s a beautiful NFL-level throw.
Nice post-snap adjustment/read and anticipation by Bo Nix pic.twitter.com/vuFBkdyGbk— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) January 23, 2024
Here, it’s third and goal from the 17-yard-line and Washington State is giving a blitz look pre-snap with six defenders near the line of scrimmage. However, they end up sitting back and playing man-coverage with the boundary safety (top of the screen) dropping deep.
Nix initially looks to his right and sees the safety and slot corner bailing, so he knows he’s protected with six guys to block five potential pass-rushers. Also, he recognizes that it’s man coverage and the safety who was in the middle of the field pre-snap isn’t going to be able to get all the way out to the bottom of the numbers.
So, Nix whips his head around to the other side of the formation where the Ducks have a man-beater concept with the rub route to open up the slot fade. He throws with good anticipation, releasing the ball before the receiver even leaves the line of scrimmage and puts it perfectly on the back shoulder so the cornerback can’t get to it for a touchdown.
This is a great example of the Oregon product’s processing and ability to throw with anticipation.
Bo Nix scrambles and finds the open man with a nice throw in the run pic.twitter.com/0t3sC7dGoA— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) January 23, 2024
Moving onto Nix’s ability to make something out of nothing and throw on the run.
Since it’s third and 13, the Cougars are playing in a deep zone by dropping eight defenders and only have two pass-rushers with one spy. The defense just wants to keep everything in front of them and they do a good job of that as nothing is open initially except for a short drag route that they want Nix to throw.
However, he doesn’t take the bait and starts scrambling, using his legs to move the defense. Eventually, the coverage breaks down as the corner at the bottom of the screen stays attached to the drag route instead of the deeper receiver who was running a corner from the slot.
Nix finds the open man and delivers a nice ball without having to set his feet, turning a play that was looked doomed into a touchdown. Granted, a hold by the right tackle did take the points off the board.
On the run, across the body and 35 air yards…okay, Bo Nix, okay pic.twitter.com/5ARRrQyncX— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) January 23, 2024
Here, Oregon State gives Nix an exotic look as they have two linebackers lined up on the line of scrimmage and two off-ball backers pre-snap. However, the two linebackers on the line end up dropping while the two that were off the ball blitz for this Cover 0 look, creating confusion up front in Oregon’s protection scheme.
The pressure starts to get there, so Nix scrambles out of the pocket and keeps his eyes downfield. He ends up finding his receiver wide open running to the other side of the field and shows off some arm strength by pushing the ball down the field without having his feet set.
While the receiver does have to come back for the ball, Nix is throwing on the run and across his body while the ball travels about 35 yards in the air. That doesn’t happen without some impressive arm strength.
Cover 0 vs empty, Bo Nix knows he has to get the ball out quickly and drops it in the bucket for an explosive play pic.twitter.com/5qAhECukUq— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) January 23, 2024
In this next clip, it’s third and seven and the Cougars are showing blitz with a double-mug look pre-snap, meaning the linebackers are on the line of scrimmage and in the A-gaps. Since the Ducks are in an empty formation, there’s likely going to be an unblocked defender that the quarterback has to account for in the protection scheme.
With Oregon sliding the protection left, Nix knows there’s going to be a free edge rusher on his right and has to make a quick decision with the ball. The defensive tackle ends up getting pressure too since the right guard stepped the wrong way initially and trips.
But, Nix sees his receiver win off the line of scrimmage, throws with anticipation and delivers a good ball on the slot fade to create an explosive play.
Cover 0 vs empty again, Bo Nix with another impressive throw off his back foot pic.twitter.com/d0IeIIRuKZ— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) January 23, 2024
We’ll end with another impressive throw against Cover 0 from an empty formation.
This time, Oregon slides the protection right and it’s the right tackle who messes up, creating a free rusher that Nix wasn’t expecting. However, he buys some time with his feet, throws with anticipation and has enough arm strength to get the ball well past the sticks on third and 10 while throwing off his back foot.
Nix’s ability to make off-platform throws is one of his biggest strengths and a big reason why his draft stock is high.