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Davis Mills provided some optimism for Houston Texans fans in the final five games of his rookie season.
Houston went 2-3 down the stretch, including a 41-29 beatdown of the Los Angeles Chargers, who were very much in the playoff hunt, and Mills had a 9-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio with a 102.4 passer rating. Houston even made the Tennessee Titans sweat as the AFC South champions needed to beat the Texans 28-25 to secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Where would Mills rank in a re-draft of quarterbacks from the 2021 NFL draft?
According to Michael Renner from Pro Football Focus, Mills would still be at the bottom, coming in at No. 6 of six rookie quarterbacks in his examination.
Why Mills would be the sixth quarterback taken behind Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Zach Wilson is because he had a 4.3% turnover-worthy play rate.
Davis Mills layering this ball over the linebacker to the deep dig on a dagger concept is absolutely beautiful. pic.twitter.com/ApyrZgnUNt
— Nicholas Martin (@themicknartin) January 12, 2022
It’s not the simple fact that PFF’s board had Mills much lower than he appears here, but rather the fact that his college tape suggested he was NFL-ready. Mills displayed the footwork, fakes and processing speed quarterbacks need to play in the league when he was at Stanford. It was the bouts of ugly decision-making, inconsistency and limited physical ability that dropped him down the PFF draft board.
So, if I’m going to change my opinion of him as a player, it would be because those attributes materially changed. And that was not the case for Mills as a rookie. His 4.3% turnover-worthy play rate was the highest in the rookie class, as his grade fluctuated weekly. I’d need to see that change before talking myself into him as the Texans’ quarterback of the future.
Never mind that the Texans were the worst in the NFL with a 3.4 yards per carry and an 83.6 rushing yards per game. The passing game was all the Texans offense had to move the ball. No wonder Mills’ turnover-worthy percentage fluctuated from week to week.
Renner and general manager Nick Caserio have an accord in the fact Mills hasn’t arrived.
“He’s got a long way to go as well and he’d be the first to tell you that,” Caserio told reporters on Jan. 14. “He’s got to learn, more than anything, defenses and what the other team is trying to do.”