With the rough season they’re having, the Houston Texans are in a prime position to draft a quarterback. But the big question is… will they want to?
In a 2021 draft class chock full of premier talent at the quarterback position, NFL fans got familiar with names like Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones. Houston traded away their 2021 first-round pick for Laremy Tunsil though, so they had to settle for a third-round quarterback, Stanford product Davis Mills. Yet, over the last few weeks, he’s begun to grow into that starting role in Houston.
The Texans didn’t initially plan to have Mills as their starting quarterback in 2021; they signed veteran journeyman Tyrod Taylor to a one-year contract in the offseason. With the uncertainty surrounding Deshaun Watson and the sexual harassment lawsuits against him, Taylor was named the starter going into the season and Mills would back him up. Then, as Taylor seems to be prone to do as a starter with a rookie backup, he got hurt early in the season. Mills became the Texans’ starter in Week 3, and he was not great in his first two career starts. Like, four-picks-in-a-single-game not great. But the week after he threw four interceptions, he led the Texans to a near-upset of the New England Patriots. Mills threw for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns on 72.4% accuracy, all the highest marks of his young career at the time. Then, as if to prove his inconsistency, he had another multi-interception game against the Indianapolis Colts.
But since then, slowly but surely, the rookie quarterback started to flourish in the opportunities he was given. Mills had two of his best starts in the weeks following the Colts game but was relegated back to the bench when Taylor returned from his injury. When Mills did get another shot at the starting job after poor performances from Taylor, he took full advantage in a great performance—albeit in a loss –– against Seattle last week. He set a franchise record with 14 straight completions to begin the game and threw for a career-high 331 yards with a touchdown and no picks. Unlike after previous big games though, Mills showed some more consistency with a second consecutive good performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That’s going to have to be the key for the rookie and the Texans going forward: consistency. If Mills is going to be their starting quarterback for the rest of this year—which head coach David Culley said would be the case—and beyond, he needs to get better at stringing together quality starts.
Since Mills has retaken the helm as Houston’s starting quarterback, so far so good. The last two weeks have brought about two straight quality starts from the Stanford product, including outdueling first overall pick Trevor Lawrence for Mills’ first win as a starter. He was making good decisions and making them quickly. When he didn’t have a good look further downfield on initial reads, he took what the defense gave him on check-down passes.
With just three weeks remaining in the 2021 season, those two games provided some good momentum to build on for the end of this season and potentially into next. If Mills continues to perform well on a consistent basis, it frees up the Texans and general manager Nick Caserio for the 2022 draft. Houston needs a lot of help on their roster, and if they avoid having to draft a quarterback—even for a year—it could go a long way.