There aren’t many more draft analysts who garner more respect than NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, a former pro scout who covers the annual draft in great detail each year. He’s hit the nail on the head with some New Orleans Saints picks in years past, so it’s important to pay attention and see what he’s projecting with the 2024 NFL draft just up ahead.
But this pick is a doozy. Jeremiah shared his first 2024 mock draft on Friday, and he has the Saints making a controversial selection with Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix at No. 14. Here’s why Jeremiah says Nix should be a Saint:
I’m a big fan of Nix’s game. I think his experience as a five-year starter is a positive for him as he heads to the next level. He would be a plug-and-play starter in New Orleans. I’m not confident the Saints view Derek Carr as the answer.
Before transferring to Oregon for the 2022 season, Nix was a three-year starter at Auburn, where he didn’t exactly wow fans in the SEC. He threw 16 interceptions and fumbled 20 times in 34 games. But he flipped a switch after going to Oregon; Nix has turned the ball over just 13 times in 27 games with the Ducks while improving as a passer and making better use of his legs, taking just 6 sacks in each of the last two years and scoring 20 rushing touchdowns.
He’s dynamic and exciting to watch. But it’s going to be tough for Saints fans to overlook his early-career struggles and the questionable level of competition he’s faced out west. He wouldn’t exactly be stepping into a welcoming environment.
And none of that touches on the elephant in the room, which Jeremiah addressed by sharing, “I’m not confident the Saints view Derek Carr as the answer.” That could be Jeremiah’s own conjecture (and it runs against the public support Carr has received from Mickey Loomis and Dennis Allen), but it shouldn’t be ignored.
Carr’s contract makes him too expensive to keep as a backup, and the Saints have already tied themselves to him through 2024 by guaranteeing the second year of his salary when they signed him. If they restructure him this year, as is expected, he’ll be locked in through 2025 as well. It’s possible the Saints could keep Carr on his $35.7 million cap hit this year and then part ways in 2025, freeing up the starting job for Nix, but it would take some seriously crafty salary cap accounting to make it work. And asking a rookie quarterback who’s about to celebrate his 24th birthday to wait another year or two to start feels unlikely.
But you never know with this team. Maybe Nix is high on their radar, and maybe they’re higher on this quarterback class than they are in Carr’s long-term projection. All of these unknowns are what make the draft cycle so compelling.