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2024 NFL Draft

Mel Kiper Jr. Does Not See Fit Between Steelers and Bo Nix

The Pittsburgh Steelers could look to draft Bo Nix, but Mel Kiper does not see the fit making much sense.



Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Bo Nix
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix throws the ball at the 2024 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. -- Alan Saunders / Steelers Now

Earlier this week, Field Yates of ESPN had the Pittsburgh Steelers making a desperation pick at 20th overall by grabbing Oregon star quarterback Bo Nix.

“This one might be a surprise, as the Steelers have backed Kenny Pickett — who they took at No. 20 two years ago — this offseason. But they also said they plan to add competition for him in the quarterback room. Quarterback picks in this range are often polarizing, but my fundamental mindset is the Steelers’ ceiling with Pickett under center is too low for a franchise whose standard is not simply making the playoffs but making deep runs. Pittsburgh has lost five straight playoff games now. Nix blends sharp accuracy with some razzle dazzle (something he has refined during his college career after transferring from Auburn) and an ability to quickly scan the field to deliver the right read. He set the FBS single-season record for completion percentage in 2023 at 77.4% while throwing 45 touchdown passes to three interceptions,” Yates wrote.

The 23-year-old threw for over 15,000 yards and 100 touchdowns in a five-year college career that saw him set an NCAA record by playing in and starting 61 games. But not everyone is on board with the idea. And fellow ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper does not see how the fit makes sense given Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow are in the division. He does not think that Nix moves the needle.

“The issue with Pittsburgh is the division,” Kiper said on First Draft. “Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson. Then, you throw in the AFC and all the great ones there, which we’ve talked about a thousand times. But the division, I’m big on that. Because if you’re fourth – and they’re fourth by a mile, by miles. They can’t see the quarterbacks in that division they’re so far looking away. You’ve got to get better than the quarterback you had, who’s okay. But in this division, you can’t have a single. A single’s not winning games for you. You’ve got to have a triple, home run, grand slam. You’ve got to do something big here. You swing for the fences, right? That, to me, is Justin Fields.”

Nix was a freshman starter at Auburn in 2019, leading the Tigers to an Iron Bowl win over Alabama, a 9-4 record and was voted the SEC Freshman of the Year. But things didn’t take the usual path from there. Offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham left after Nix’s first season.

A COVID-19 shortened sophomore year under new OC Chad Morris was something of a statistical stagnation for Nix and Auburn went 6-5 and Gus Malzahn was fired.

A third season with a third coordinator in 2021 started with promise, but when Nix was injured and the Tigers lost five straight games to close the year, it was time to hit the transfer portal.

He landed 2,600 miles away in Eugene, Oregon with the Ducks. For someone born in Arkansas and raised in Alabama, it was a huge transition. But there was familiarity in the return to a Dillingham-led offense. Nix thrived with the Ducks, setting career highs with 3,593 yards and 29 touchdowns.

In 2023, it was the same old story, as Dillingham left to be the head coach at Arizona State and Oregon brought in Will Stein as OC. But this time, Nix took the change in stride, and went out and had his best season. He finished 2023 with 4,508 yards, an NCAA-record 77.4 completion percentage, and 45 touchdowns compared to just three interceptions.

But Kiper wants the team to shoot higher. He thinks what they have in Kenny Pickett already equals what they would get out of Nix. The team has to aim higher than they have right now, but Nix seems like a panic move that does not move their needle all that much.