NFL QB Tiers: Where Do Houston Texans Rank (Without Deshaun Watson)?

Entering the 2021 season, it's not looking good for the Houston Texans at quarterback
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HOUSTON -- Once in a blue moon, an average player takes the team far and eventually hoists is the Lombardi Trophy. 

Most of the time, though, teams live or die by the quarterback play. How does this bode for the Houston Texans? 

Not great … no matter how you look at the situation. 

What's the 2021 NFL Draft in the books, and most of the major free agency moves complete, teams have a better idea of where they stand entering OTA's. Building around the quarterback could be the difference of having a solid roster or being a bad team. 

READ MORE: 'Mr. Wonderful': Coach Culley Has Special Message For Houston Texans Rookies

Mike Jones of USA Today released his QB tier rankings heading into the 2021 season. Should Deshaun Watson be a member of the club, Houston would probably be the top team in the division. 

Instead, they're dead last. 

"Deshaun Watson is unlikely to play for Houston again (regardless of how his legal battles play out). Tyrod Taylor is a solid veteran quarterback but has started just for games in the last three years, and third-rounder Davis Mills is a project." 

Watson, who still is facing 22 civil lawsuits of sexual misconduct and sexual assault, still is expected to leave Houston when the situation is settled. Taylor, who has been a prime backup for both the Cleveland Browns and the Los Angeles Chargers, could be able to stabilize play until rookie Mills is ready. 

From an inside perspective, Mills is actually a high-upside player coming from David Shaw's system in Palo Alto. The Stanford coach even said that had Mills returned to college for 2021, he would have been a top selection next April. 

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The biggest knock against Mills is his lack of production and injuries since coming out Duluth, Ga., as the No. 1 pocket-passing QB in America. He started 11 games at Stanford, throwing 18 touchdowns over two seasons. If not for COVID-19, perhaps the numbers would have been better in 2020. 

As for the other three teams in the AFC South, the results are mixed. 

Jones ranks Tennessee Titans star Ryan Tannehill in the "very good" tier, along with names such as Atlanta's Matt Ryan, Dallas' Dak Prescott and Los Angeles' Matthew Stafford. 

Make no mistake, Tannehill has been productive since taking over for Marcus Mariota last season. He's gone 18-8 as a starter, throwing for 6,561 yards and 55 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. The question now is will he regress with former coordinator Arthur Smith now in charge of the Falcons? 

READ MORE: Report: NFL Teams Believe Houston Texans Are Moving On From Deshaun

Jacksonville ranks in the "unproven" tier. No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence is already drawing comparisons to Andrew Luck, John Elway and Peyton Manning. Can he live up to the hype despite his supporting cast in Year 1? 

The Colts fall into the "shaky" tier despite the production of the new gunslinger. Carson Wentz will be getting a fresh start with Indianapolis following his fall from grace with the Philadelphia Eagles. Once upon a time, Wentz was at a near-MVP level with Frank Reich (the Indy coach) as his offensive coordinator. 

Was the play-calling and injuries the problem, or has Wentz been the reason for Philly's regression since Super Bowl LII? That'll be answered by December. 

If Mills would have been a top 10 — heck, even a first-rounder — Houston would have been in the “unproven” section. Instead, he and Taylor will have to climb out of the cellar by Week 17 to not finish with GM Nick Caserio turning to the 2022 draft to find the next franchise guy. 

CONTINUE READING: Way-Too-Early 2022 NFL Draft: Bleak Outlook For Houston Texans?