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Texans NFL Draft: Houston Needs Another QB in 2023?

The Houston Texans might be wise to start looking ahead at the 2023 quarterback class just in case

HOUSTON -- There are two ways to look at the Houston Texans entering 2022. Things are trending upwards for the 4-13 franchise after general manager Nick Caserio seemed to "nail" the incoming draft class. 

There's also the more logical way of seeing the big picture; Houston has a long way to go. The second phase of the path to contention could be sped up with second-year quarterback Davis Mills becomes a viable starter. 

Betting odds aren't believing in him to get the job done. Most way-too-early mock drafts have the Texans landing the top pick of 2023. With it, a majority have them taking a quarterback. 

Alabama's Bryce Young? Sure. Ohio State's C.J. Stroud? Perhaps. Some believe Kentucky's Will Levis is set for a breakout year, making him a contender to be the next Texans' quarterback. 

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Unfortunately, that's the case for most quarterbacks drafted outside the first 32 picks. Teams are hopeful that a middle-round draftee will pan out into something promising, thus allowing them to build around the prospect while paying a fraction of the cost. 

More often than not, that doesn't happen. Entering 2022, 72 percent of starting quarterbacks were drafted in the first round. Only a handful of mid-round selections are considered "long-term" options as well. 

Mills, who was selected No. 67 overall in 2021, has earned the right to start. The keyword is "earned" in the sentence since nothing was handed to him once he arrived at NRG Stadium. 

Mills was forced to start for the injured Tyrod Taylor in Week 2. Before he was ever ready to take first-team reps, the Texans forced him into the fire. Lo and behold, the results were as expected. 

In a sample size toward the season's end, Mills looked the part of a capable passer. He finished with a 2-3 record, a completion percentage of 68.7, nine touchdowns against two interceptions and a passer rating of 104. 

So yes, Mills earned the title of Week 1 starter in 2022. Everything else is based on what follows. Should he build off his development late from last year and the Texans still lose, there's a conversation to be had on what to do at No. 1. 

If Mills is the reason Houston is failing, it's time to add a first-round talent. 

Even with the Texans' selections, how much better will Houston be? LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. can slightly fix a woeful secondary and cause more turnovers. The same could be said of Baylor safety Jalen Pitre in the run game. 

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Is that enough to change Houston from a four-win team to an eight-win roster? More than likely, no. 

John Metchie III is a high-volume receiver that finished with 96 catches in his final year at Alabama. Pairing him with Nico Collins and Brandin Cooks gives Houston a three-man arsenal that most front offices would consider serviceable.  

Will that be enough to get Houston out of the AFC cellar? Only if Mills can maximize their full potential. 

Mills was in a lose-lose situation as a rookie. The team had zero direction entering a new regime, plus were dealing with the loss of a quarterback. 

A franchise quarterback. The first franchise quarterback in the team's history. Is Mills the second?

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Deshaun Watson leaving Houston now leads to the question if Mills is the right answer. In the AFC alone, first-round quarterbacks are becoming a trend to building a contender. 

Josh Allen in Buffalo. Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City. Joe Burrow in Cincinnati. Justin Herbert in Los Angeles. All four are the favorites to win the AFC, but they also were all selected within the first 10 picks on their respective drafts. 

There's no telling if Young, Stroud, Levis, or others will pan out in the pros. The difference between them and Mills is roster control and upside. Another year in Houston's system might be a clear indication of where he sits in the eyes of the franchise. 

That's the reality for non-first-round quarterbacks. They're given one shot and rarely ever a second. 

Mills' shot comes starting Week 1 of 2022. He likely has 17 games to prove he's the guy for 2023. If there's any setback, Caserio likely hits the reset button. 

Thus is the life of a quarterback without a fifth-year option.