HOUSTON -- Although at this early stage he doesn't deserve the pressure, Houston Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills figures to be under some intense heat entering training camp.
After all, replacing Deshaun Watson - which is ultimately what the franchise would like from the kid - is no easy task.
The third-round pick out of Stanford enters training camp next month as likely the No. 3 QB, with a chance to jump to No. 2. Tyrod Taylor will be the presumed starter and veteran Jeff Driskel likely sees early work with the second-team offense.
First-year general manager Nick Caserio didn't use the team's first draft pick on a QB destined to be a forver-backup. Ultimately, Mills is expected to take over as the No. 2 option and hopefully, depending how the season unfolds, maybe start towards the season's end.
No matter who gets the early starting nod, they'll be asked to meet, as much as possible, the same production as Watson in 2020. The four-year starter threw for an NFL-leading 4,823 passing yards, along with a franchise record of 33 touchdowns.
We all know those numbers aren't realistic.
Watson is currently still facing legal issues, but also has reiterated that he still wants a trade. Barring any change of heart, Houston likely will work to find a trade partner and begin fresh.
No matter who earns the title of QB1, each quarterback will need ample practice to succeed. Taylor played in just one game for the Chargers last season. Driskel made 64 pass attempts for Denver last season in three games.
Mills only has 11 career starts under his belt at the collegiate level due to injuries. and only 14 career games. Of course, if the Texans' rookie can show that what Houston is really getting is the former No. 1 quarterback recruit of 2017 - which Mills was? All bets are off the table.
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After 11 years in the league and over 20 starts, a rebuilding club will likely turn to Taylor first. New coach David Culley, offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton all must make sure Taylor is ready for Week 1.
If that takes reps away from Mills? So be it— the Texans owe it to themselves to try to win in September.
Mills though might arrive in camp and come as advertised in minimal portions he showed during his time with the Cardinal. He has a big arm, moves well inside the pocket, delivers downfield and is quick as a whip in the IQ department.
That alone shows promise for the future. For the present? Even a good camp likely doesn't win him the starting job.
Preseason in 2021 will be interesting as there are now only three games. Starters usually play just one quarter in Game 2 and a half in Game 3 before preparation for the regular season. Now, move all the games up by one and expect the similar results.
Will that happen under center?
Mills throwing six or seven touchdowns and zero interceptions in three games might not mean much as it regards his regular-season status. The preseason is best used to find out which 10-12 players on the fringe actually will suit up come September.
As of now, Mills is viewed as the heir apparent and hopeful franchise quarterback in Houston. If the coaches are sold on his work ethic and will wait until 2022, so be it. Should he start midseason and look the part, that's great too.
The more snaps Mills sees in camp, the more it could show what direction Houston will be headed beyond 2021. Either way, Mills' snap count this summer could correlate to the plan for Houston's draft come April of 2022.
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