Sean Pendergast

2023 Early Mock Drafts Show Little Faith in Texans or QB Davis Mills

Davis Mills is one reason Texan fans have some intriguing hope for the upcoming season.
Davis Mills is one reason Texan fans have some intriguing hope for the upcoming season. Photo by Jack Gorman
For the first time in a long time, there is hope enveloping the Houston Texans. The general manager, Nick Caserio, just conducted a very competent draft weekend ten days ago, the rookie class appears to be ready to help right away this season, and then there's the quarterback.

At this point in his career arc, Davis Mills is more of an intriguing curiosity than he is a franchise savior. He did just enough in his final five starts to make you willing to overlook how horrific his first six starts were. Among 2021 rookie quarterbacks, it's barely even an argument that he had the second best season of the whole crop, behind New England's Mac Jones.

That optimism is reflected in the view of the Texans' fan base, who overwhelmingly responded that they see Mills having a stellar enough 2022 season to be the starter entering his THIRD year into the league come 2023:
That's the view from INSIDE Houston. (Yes, I'm assuming that most of my Twitter followers responding to this poll are either present Houstonians or former Houstonians who root for the Texans.) As it turns out, outside our Bayou Bubble here in H-town, the experts don't see the Texans' 2022 season with nearly as much hope nor optimism.

First, the oddsmakers have made the Texans an overwhelming favorite to finish LAST in the AFC South. They are -500 favorites to be the caboose of one of football's weaker divisions. (In plain English, you need to risk $500 to win a mere $100 when betting the Texans to finish last in the AFC South.) For some perspective, here are the odds on some of the other NFL tortoises to finish last in their respective divisions, courtesy of BetOnline.ag):

HOU -500
NYJ -275
SEA -200
DET -150
ATL -110
NYG +125
CHI +150
LVG +150
CAR +175
WAS +185

That's one metric to gauge outside views on the Texans. The other one is the "way too early" mock drafts for 2023, which generally show not only pessimism about the Texans, but by proxy, pessimism about Davis Mills, as well. Consider this — I Googled "way too early NFL mock drafts 2023" last week, and the first five that came up ALL had the Texans picking first (which means they would have finished last in the NFL standings in 2022)  AND selecting Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud (which means the Davis Mills experiment was a failure).

Here were those five mock drafts with quotes about the Texans' selecting Stroud:



ESPN.com, Todd McShay:
The Texans believe in quarterback Davis Mills, but if they actually end up picking No. 1 next April, something went terribly awry for Mills during his sophomore season. Stroud has a big arm, completing 71.9% of his passes for 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns and just six interceptions in 2021. The third-year sophomore has only 12 career starts, though, so all eyes will be on him this season.
Yardbarker.com, Seth Trachtman:
Stroud had a breakout 2021 season, completing nearly 72% of his passes and throwing for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns. He has his sights set on winning the Heisman Trophy in 2022, and is almost certain to be among the top picks in 2023 if he declares for the draft. The Texans saw progress from Davis Mills in his rookie season, but probably couldn't resist the opportunity to take a talent like Stroud.
NFL Trade Rumors, Logan Ulrich:
The best player in the 2023 class as we sit right now is Alabama DE Will Anderson. But history tells us if a quarterback shows enough to reasonably project as a franchise talent, the positional value will push them up the board. Stroud may not be there yet, but he's close.
24/7 Sports, Blake Brockermeyer:
Stroud started slow in 2021 but came on strong towards the end of the season and with one game to go was the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy before the Buckeyes lost at Michigan. Stroud has the experience and ability to put together another monster year with another talented Ohio State offense around him. There's hope in Houston that Davis Mills can be a franchise quarterback but if the Texans are again picking in the top-3 this time next year, that means Mills never materialized.
Yahoo! Sports, Luke Easterling:
If the Texans are picking this high, the Davis Mills experiment has likely failed after a second season. Stroud has all the tools to be a franchise quarterback, and next year’s No. 1 overall pick.
Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I'm having a hard time reconciling the Texans being worse next season than they were in 2021, when they've made massive upgrades in the areas of head coaching, offensive coordinator, young talent influx, and Mills has a season of experience under his belt. Here's to hoping the draft experts were just lazy in their analysis.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast