HOUSTON -- When given the opportunity to select with the No. 1 overall pick, the trend is to take a franchise quarterback. What happens if the Houston Texans win the top spot next season?
They actually could go in a multitude of directions.
It's no surprise that most early mock drafts have the Texans picking No. 1 overall. They're a 4-12 roster with a rookie head coach and no idea what will happen with the quarterback position entering August.
That doesn't mean we're fast-forwarding through 2021, but our sense is, things are going to get worse before they get better. Houston is close to rock-bottom with Deshaun Watson asking for a trade following the hirings of GM Nick Caserio and coach David Culley.
The trade likely would have unfolded on draft night if not for Watson's current situation. He still is facing 22 civil lawsuits of sexual assault and sexual misconduct from Texas lawyer Tony Buzbee.
What does this mean for the Texans? A lower trade value to start.
And then, eventually, an entire season of potential struggle.
Before the Texans can decide what to with the No. 1 pick should they land the nod come January of 2022, they at least need to give rookie Davis Mills a chance. Ideally, the Stanford product will hit once learning the playbook and be viewed as the long-term franchise quarterback.
Of course, not everyone can be like Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott or Tom Brady - a non first-round success story, right?
Mills could be the answer, though, hoping that college coach David Shaw's system prepared him for the NFL. Injuries and COVID-19 aside, keep in mind that the former Cardinal quarterback with the No. 1 pocket-passing prospect of the 2017 recruiting class.
Who knows if Mills would have been on the board for Houston should the Pac 12 have had a full season?
Even if the Texans are selecting No. 1, should Mills look the part for the next decade, this becomes an easy decision. Outside of having the right man at QB, pressuring the QB comes second on most GMs' list of needs.
Since 2010, three drafts haven't featured a QB as the top spot — two of which saw a defensive end come off the board (Jadeveon Clowney '14, Myles Garrett '17). Could Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux be next?
Thibodeaux for now seems to be the lone sure-fire top option. The 6-foot-5 Duck terrorized Pac-12 tackles during his freshman season, and still added immense in 2020.
With the loss of Clowney, J.J. Watt and what feels like soon-to-be Whitney Mercilus, the Texans could use that force on the edge. In a similar way to Garrett, Thibodeaux provides stability at the position and could be the face of the franchise for the next decade.
In the three times Houston's held the No. 1 pick, twice they selected a pass-rusher over a QB.
Should Mills struggle — fair chance or not to actually learn under Tim Kelly and Pep Hamilton — quarterback (assuming Watson is long gone) becomes a priority.
Caserio will know that entering the 2021 college football season, there isn't a Trevor Lawrence-equse prospect waiting to hear their name called next April. A former quarterback himself, he must find the player that fits the system in Houston.
That name is still unknown. Isn't that the case for future No. 1 picks now?
Prior to Lawrence being selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the last three No. 1 picks were LSU's Joe Burrow, Oklahoma's Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield.
Burrow was one season removed from transferring from Ohio State and was a projected fifth-rounder. Mayfield was criticized for his height and lack of NFL tools due to the offense. As for Murray? He was already a top-10 pick with Oakland Athletics before even starting a game for the Sooners following his transfer from Texas A&M.
None of the names were expected entering their final seasons to even be Day 1 starters, let alone first-round picks. All three instead lead their teams to the College Football playoff and won the Heisman Trophy — with Burrow going 15-0 and claiming the national title.
As of now, North Carolina's Sam Howell, Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler and USC's Kedon Slovis seem to be the front-runners for the No. 1 spot.
Who's the Burrow of 2021? Houston would want that guy.
Early names to break out include Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder, Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec, Ole Miss' Matt Corral, Liberty's Malik Wills and UCF's Dillon Gabriel.
From the transfer list, Texas Tech's Tyler Shough (Oregon) and Florida State's McKenzie Milton (UCF) are options. Former USC and current Georgia starter JT Daniels will be given a chance as well to prove he's in a class of his own in the SEC.
In the best-case, Caserio would trade Watson for multiple early selections and use the No. 1 pick on Thibodeaux, then use the next selection on a No. 1 wide receiver such as Clemson's Justyn Ross or a No. 1 cornerback in LSU's Derek Stingley Jr.
In another scenario, the same thing happens but Caserio adds one of the names listed above to rebuild under center with the extra Watson pick.
Mills should be given a fair shot to win the job, but ruling out the "heir" to Watson for now still isn't enough to lean one way or another — especially if Houston's record is as bad many expect.
A lot can go wrong in 2021. But in 2022? Houston has every chance to get it right.