Life is never easy for a rookie quarterback in the NFL, let alone for one shoved into a premature starting role on a 1-5 team amidst a ground-up rebuild. But this is the world Davis Mills finds himself in with the Houston Texans.
Despite this, and multiple other factors playing against him, Mills has shown signs of potential as the season has progressed. So how exactly does he compare with his fellow rookie signal-callers?
Statistically, somewhat surprisingly, he's fared relatively well.
Among the six rookie NFL quarterbacks to throw at least one pass, Mills ranks fourth in yardage (912) in four starts and five total appearances, second in completion percentage (63.3), third in touchdowns (5), third in interceptions (7) and fourth in QB rating (31.7).
He consistently ranks below the Jaguars' Trevor Lawrence and Patriots' Mac Jones, who to be fair are both expected to be franchise quarterbacks. But he's right up there with first-rounders the Jets' Zach Wilson, Bears' Justin Fields and 49ers' Trey Lance.
On the field, it's been a mixed bag from Mills. At times he's shown poise, calm, and a strong arm, particularly down the field. And yet, as with any rookie, he's made a number of risky throws into tight windows that didn't pay off, misread coverages, and hasn't always displayed NFL-caliber accuracy.
However, his growing pains haven't been helped by circumstances out of his control.
The Texans have no real run game to back him up, with just 523 yards rushing and a league-low 3.3 yards per carry.
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Meanwhile, injuries to receivers such as Danny Amendola and Nico Collins, along with the departure of Anthony Miller, haven't been ideal for a QB who already lacked reps with the first-teamers heading into the season.
Throw in the questionable play-calling, and offensive line issues stemming from injuries, penalties, and general quality and it has been far from a fertile learning environment.
Something that many seem to forget is that while he was Houston's first overall pick this year, Mills was ultimately a third-rounder. With an injury history and just 14 college starts, he was always going to be a project QB and likely wouldn't have started much, if at all this year, had it not been for Tyrod Taylor's injury.
Mills was the eighth QB taken in this year's draft at pick 67, but despite this and the circumstances surrounding him, he's arguably performed as well as, if not better than players who have cost their teams not only considerably more valuable picks but far more cash.
For example, Wilson signed a four-year $35.15 million contract after going second overall. By comparison, Mills' four-year deal is a mere (by NFL standards) $5.218 million.
And has the second overall selection outplayed Mills? Not significantly. The Jets have as many wins as Houston.
As it stands, Mills is the only non-first-round QB to have played in earnest for their team. And while the jury is out on whether or not he can be a franchise QB, it has to be said that so far, he looks like a good value pick and a potentially solid player.
Fingers crossed this evaluation won't take a sudden turn for the worst after being thrown into the lion's den when the Texans face the undefeated Arizona Cardinals this week.