Houston Texans: Could rookie Davis Mills win the starting QB job?

Could Houston Texans rookie Davis Mills win the starting QB job?

The Houston Texans, along with 28 other NFL teams, will report to training camp later this month on July 27. While this is typically exciting news for teams and fans alike, there’s one player that will most likely be missing at the Texans’ facilities. Deshaun Watson.

Shockingly, there’s been little development recently on everything surrounding Watson. In this case for Houston, no news is bad news. It’s progressed to the point where ESPN’s Fantasy Football rankings don’t have any projections for Watson in the upcoming 2021 season and he isn’t ranked, leading to the fact that they don’t think he will play.

Instead, ESPN has the top quarterback for Houston listed as Tyrod Taylor, appearing on the list as the No. 30 quarterback in standard leagues, pinned between New Orleans Saints quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. However, Taylor is far from the only Houston quarterback on the list. In fact, just six spots lower at No. 36 is rookie Davis Mills.

Mills was the first player taken by Houston in the 2021 NFL Draft, going with the 67th overall pick in the third round. After five quarterbacks went in the first round, only one went in the second and it was the last pick. However, that last pick of the second round was the first of three quarterbacks to go over the span of four picks.

Of that grouping, Mills was the third quarterback selected, being the eighth quarterback out of a total of 10 picked in the 2021 NFL Draft. Despite that, Mills might have one of the better chances to start Week 1 out of the class.

The top picks of Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are all but guaranteed to start the first week, but beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. Everyone else will either enter a quarterback competition or settle into a depth role immediately. For Mills, he might have the best shot at winning his competition out of the gates.

In addition to Taylor and Mills, the Houston Texans also roster Jeff Driskel, a journeyman quarterback who has started nine games over the last three seasons for three different teams. In those starts, he holds a 1-8 record with a completion percentage below 59% along with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Not exactly a stat line a team wants to put under center if they can help it.

As for Taylor, he’s had an interesting run the last few seasons. Last year, he started one game for the Los Angeles Chargers, but an injury handed the job to rookie Justin Herbert who never showed any intention of giving it back. Taylor originally signed with the Chargers in 2019 but didn’t play that season since Philip Rivers was the starter.

Going back to 2018, it was a similar story. Taylor signed on with the Cleveland Browns, but an injury early in the season saw Baker Mayfield take the reigns and never look back. Meaning that 2017 was the last time Taylor saw significant playing time over a full season. Since then, he has a 2-1-1 record as a bridge starter.

That isn’t to say Taylor can’t get the job done still. We’ve seen players in the past go from starter to the bench and back to a productive starter a few years later. What it could do is make the race a bit closer and the odds of Mills emerging the starter higher.

While at Stanford, Mills played in just 14 games for the Cardinal, including no more than eight in a season. However, he was able to tally a total of 3,468 yards over his career while tossing 18 touchdowns with eight interceptions.

Mills’ entire career at Stanford was still three games shy of the upcoming NFL season that will span 17 games. With that being said, his production in the 14 games he did play, which is really more like 13 since the one game had two pass attempts and no completions, has some potential for Houston to work with should Watson not be at camp.

If you take Mills’ averages and stretch it out over a full season, there’s definitely some optimism. The PAC-12 isn’t NFL-level competition, but there’s potential. Should Mills sustain his college numbers over a full NFL season he would end up with about 4,535 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, plus his 65% completion percentage isn’t bad either.

Now, those stats most likely aren’t sustainable. Not to mention only 23 touchdowns but 4,535 yards seems a bit odd. However, the point here is still strong. Davis Mills has the ability to step up in Houston and start this season. He won’t be Deshaun Watson, but he might have the best odds of winning the inevitable quarterback competition for the Houston Texans.