In what was seen as a crowded quarterback class, Davis Mills was the eighth player at his position selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. His former college coach believes that if he was in this year's class, he might have been the first quarterback selected.
In an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, Stanford head coach David Shaw sang the praises of Mills, who is in line to be the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans next season:
"What Davis did last year ... he didn't start early ... he played some games in the middle ... and then finished up, he was arguably the second-best rookie quarterback this past year behind Mac [Jones], and in some places, probably outperformed Mac.
"This was part of our conversations with Davis on whether or not he was going to come back, because just as you mentioned, this quarterback class isn't great. If Davis would have come back, I feel very strongly that he would be the top quarterback in the draft. So the Texans just got the top quarterback in the  draft a year ahead of when he would have been the top quarterback.
"So now, here you've got a quarterback that when you put the film on and watch the last five or six games that he played, this guy is as good as anybody in the NFL in the red zone ... [he has] a strong arm ... [he's a] better athlete than you think ... [he's a] really bright kid who picks things up and learns from his mistakes. I think they've got a legitimate starter there that's got a chance to be the franchise guy, and hopefully they can put some pieces around him and have some fun in Houston."
The 67th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Mills ultimately started 11 games for the Texans, who were without Deshaun Watson for the entire season. While the Texans went just 2-9 in those games, Mills tossed 16 touchdowns to 10 interceptions.
Pro Football Focus ranked Mills as the fifth best rookie quarterback in 2021, behind Mac Jones, Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson. But he did seemingly have less growing pains than Lawrence and Wilson.
One of the major questions that Mills faced as an NFL prospect was his durability, as he only played 14 total games during three seasons at Stanford. If he had returned to Stanford and had the same type of success staying healthy that he did in his rookie NFL season, it may very well have improved his draft stock.
On top of that, three quarterbacks (Lawrence, Wilson and Trey Lance) went in the first three picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. In our latest 2022 NFL Mock Draft, there were only three quarterbacks taken in the entire first round. Whether Mills would have been the first quarterback taken in this year's class or not, it's fair to say that he wouldn't have been the eighth quarterback taken this time around.
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