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The Davis Mills Conundrum

Mining silver in the abyss.

Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) flips a football in the air while warming up before an NFL pre-season football game Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, in Houston.
Staff photographer

Davis Mills is starting a game for the Texans earlier than we all thought. Is it a good thing? Tyrod Taylor will likely be sidelined for a month, meaning Mills is now in control of the offense.

The story of Mills and the Texans started during the 2021 NFL Draft, when he was taken 67th overall. However, it was reported Houston was eyeing another quarterback, a man by the name of Kellen Mond. Mond played college football at Texas A&M, where he became the school’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. The Minnesota Vikings took him one spot ahead of Houston at 66th overall. In what may have been a desperation move, the Texans selected Mills, even though they likely could’ve gotten him a round or two later. With only five total picks in the draft, the Texans didn’t have much wiggle room.

When Mills was drafted, there was still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Deshaun Watson. It wasn’t known if he still had a chance of playing in 2021, but it was starting to become clear what the team thought of the situation once they added another quarterback to the roster. There is still no plan for Deshaun Watson to play again in Houston. He’s currently listed as inactive. Jeff Driskel is the backup against the Panthers tonight.

Mills played college football at Stanford, but only started 11 games during his time there (all of which were in the 2019 and 2020 seasons). He looked promising, though it was only a small sample size of what most college quarterbacks with NFL aspirations have to show. Mills is considered to be a developmental project for that reason, and having him start so early in his career is looked at as a risky move by most.

Mills likely wouldn’t be in this situation if he was on another team, a team where he could sit behind a veteran for a year or two and simply observe. When Mills filled in for Tyrod Taylor after he pulled his hamstring against the Browns, he didn’t look horrible, but you could definitely tell he was a rookie with a rookie skillset.

Speaking of Taylor, he may be the diamond in the rough with this whole situation. If you look back at Taylor’s career, he’s paved the way for young quarterbacks to become elite (whether he wanted to or not). Taylor left the Buffalo Bills after the 2017 season, which allowed the team to draft an MVP candidate in Josh Allen. With the Cleveland Browns in 2018, Taylor started three games before suffering an injury. First overall pick Baker Mayfield went on to throw the most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback in NFL history at the time. In 2020, Taylor was in his second season with the Los Angeles Chargers when a team doctor accidentally punctured his lung. This put sixth overall pick Justin Herbert into the starting lineup, and he went on to break the record Mayfield set two years earlier.

I’m not the only one that sees the trend here. After Taylor goes down, the next man up seems to have a season for the ages. Davis Mills might not be the best candidate to keep that streak alive, but there’s always a chance he proves us wrong. Right now, that’s the scenario every Texans fan is hoping for, given how turbulent the past year and a half has been for the franchise.