The consensus surrounding newly-drafted Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills out of Stanford is that they're getting a player with a high ceiling, but limited college experience.
But according to his college head coach David Shaw, Mills is absolutely ready to take on the NFL.
"What you're getting is a tough, smart, accurate, athletic guy that has command," said Shaw via transcripts from his interview with SportsRadio 610. "He will master the offense as soon as possible. When you see him play, the play that you think a quarterback should make on the (NFL) level, he'll make it."
With just 11 starts under his belt for the Cardinals, the 22-year-old finished his college career with 3,468 passing yards across 14 appearances recording 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His lack of game time was nothing to do with any questions surrounding talent, but knee injuries early on combined with the pandemic in 2020 which left him with little opportunity to prove his ability.
Of course, given his lack of games, many wondered whether or not Mills would return for another season at Stanford before declaring. But Shaw explained that the uncertainty surrounding their upcoming season due to Covid-19 related restrictions in their location played a pivotal role in his decision not to return as their potential lack of spring football and summer training could have hampered his preparations for the season.
But Shaw is confident that Mills will ultimately succeed in the NFL regardless of his perceived lesser college experience, and that the Texans have gotten themselves a great value pick in Mills.
"Most people wanted Davis Mills to come back (to college) because if he did come back, he's probably going to be one of the top two quarterbacks in America, and a potential top-15 pick. So, this year's third-round pick -- if he plays up to his ability, which we all believe he will - is going to be like getting next year's top 15 quarterback," said Shaw.
Moving forward, the Texans have Deshaun Watson, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Finley and now Davis Mills at QB. A crowded room on paper, but with Watson's ongoing lawsuits clouding his future in the league, combined with his trade request earlier this year and the starting role could be up for grabs.
At this time Taylor is the favorite to land the role given his experience in the league and with both head coach David Culley in Buffalo and QB coach Pep Hamilton in LA. However, Taylor has a chequered injury history and is only on a one-year deal, meaning there is a chance Mills could see the field sooner rather than later.
But Shaw believes Mills is ready.
"He's healthy and he feels great," said Shaw. "And if Deshaun Watson isn't there, for whatever reason, I'm not sure he is going to be sitting on the sidelines. He might be the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans, as opposed to being a college starting quarterback. So, in that way, it would have worked out. But do I think he's ready, do I think he's capable? The answer to both of those is yes."
And another reason Texans fans should feel optimistic about Mills' future is Hamilton. A former QB coach and offensive coordinator at Stanford, he and Shaw know each other well, and Shaw believes that Hamilton's guidance will be extremely beneficial to Mills' development.
"Two reasons why I love Pep being there: One is Pep knows our offense and the transition I think will be smoother for Davis because of that and Pep will be able to relate what they're doing in Houston to things that we did," said Shaw. "Pep Hamilton coached Andrew Luck both in college and in the NFL, Pep Hamilton had a big hand in the young quarterback's (Justin Herbert) rise down there with the Chargers this past year and I think he's going to have a big hand in preparing Davis Mills for the Texans offense."
If Shaw's prediction that Mills has what it takes to be a success in Houston proves to be accurate, then the Texans may have gotten themselves not only a valuable insurance policy this year but one of the steals of the draft.
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