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Patrick MahomesNew Orleans Saints quarterback. It seems wild to think about now, but it almost happened.

In 2017, when he was the head coach of the Saints, Sean Payton wanted to draft Mahomes. New Orleans had the No. 11 overall pick and was about to turn in the card with Mahomes' name, but thanks to a trade between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, it never happened. Right before he could turn in the card, the Chiefs traded up with the Bills to No. 10 and took their guy and the rest is history.

That was his one and only chance at drafting a quarterback ... until last night. Payton, now the head coach of the Denver Broncos, a team that needs a franchise starter, held the No. 12 pick and had a plan. The team had its eyes on quarterback Bo Nix out of Oregon and feel good about the player they added.

Just how confident are they? Payton says he feels as strongly about Nix as he did Mahomes, who is a three-time Super Bowl champion, three-time Super Bowl MVP, two-time league MVP, two-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler.

Of all the quarterbacks in the draft, Payton says Nix stood out, citing his accuracy and intelligence as two main positives they noticed during his pro day and private workout. 

"You pay close attention to all the film study, and obviously he's played a lot of football, but sack differential, turnover differential, accuracy, third-down passing -- first, first, first, first in this class," Payton said. "First in end of half, first in end of game, two-minute situations, second in red zone. And then let's do another passing statistic and remove a lot of the short, underneath throws because obviously that's part of what they do offensively. You remove that and you come back with the analytics and it's still first."

Accuracy is a major skill Payton looked out for and feels that the 2023 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year is able to get the ball out quickly and accurately. The head coach said quarterbacks who tend to get sacked a lot in college, get sacked a lot in the NFL, so this was something the team narrowed in on.

"When you watch him, it's pretty calming. He's very efficient, and it's not just because of the underneath stuff. You see a ton of NFL throws in their offense. His accuracy set a NCAA record," Payton said.

Outside of just the tape, Payton liked what he saw from Nix across the board, saying he is battle-tested, has the maturity as an older player and comes from a football family, as his father is a coach. The Broncos sent the players identical tests and Payton noted that he could tell how much Nix studied what they had gave him and was impressed with how quickly he absorbed it all. 

Payton said the team is "excited" that it worked out how it did.

The quarterback room also includes Jarrett Stidham, Zach Wilson and Ben DiNucci