Brugler: This second-tier QB prospect will start games in the NFL


The 2021 NFL Draft is going to feature a historic run on quarterbacks early in the first round. In fact, there's a distinct possibility that the position's top-four prospects -- Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones -- will be off the board within the first four picks.

But this news, which has been discussed ad nauseum, shouldn't be discouraging to teams at the bottom of the draft order. The second-tier quarterbacks in this year's class are also intriguing, and according to The Athletic's NFL draft analyst Dane Brugler, one of them stands out as a future pro-level starter.

"When you're looking at this quarterback class -- outside the top-five -- who do you envision being a guy who can start games? And for me, that's clearly Davis Mills out of Stanford," Brugler told CBS Sports Radio's The DA Show on Tuesday. "6-foot-4, 217 pounds, former five-star [recruit], so he's been highly touted for a while. He goes to Stanford and redshirts his first year, doesn't play his second year -- kind of buried on the depth chart a little bit, still growing -- and then midway through 2019, he overtakes K.J. Costello for the starting job, doesn't give the job back, K.J. Costello has to transfer to Mississippi State. Then as a senior, he missed the first game because of a false-positive COVID test, and then he starts the last five games and plays really well...

"So, you look at the resume and it's not very impressive, because he only has 11 starts. But when he's been on the field, he's been really, really good. And there's a lot to like about not just what he is, but what he can be down the road, two-three years from now. I think he's the best middle-of-the-field thrower in this draft. He's a very loose passer -- he can move a little bit, not just a statue back there. The thing you just worry about, the left knee. He's had some left knee problems. So, that's just a medical staff question. If the medical staff gives me two thumbs up, then the second round, I think, is probably the sweet spot, probably where we're going to see Davis Mills go.

"If you look at the Patriots, if you look at the Bears, the Washington Football Team -- one of those teams that misses out on that run of first-round quarterbacks -- they're going to be in the quarterback market in the second round. And I think Davis Mills can be exactly what they're looking for as a developmental quarterback who will start games in this league."

Mills, 22, is the No. 81 overall prospect on Pro Football Focus' NFL Draft Big Board. Due to COVID-19 and a restructured Pac 12 conference schedule, he only played in five games this past season. But, Mills made the most of his opportunities, as he threw for 1,508 yards with seven touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 66.2 completion percentage. In 11 total collegiate games, Mills amassed 3,468 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

Last Friday, Brugler released his own seven-round mock draft, projecting the New England Patriots to select Mills in the second round at No. 46 overall.

"If the Patriots are unable to trade up for a quarterback in the first round, Mills would be an interesting Plan B on Day 2 of the draft," Brugler wrote. "Despite a small sample size and a history of knee issues, Mills has NFL starting talent."

The first round of this year's NFL Draft will take place on Thursday, April 29 in Cleveland.

The entire NFL Draft conversation between Brugler and DA can be accessed in the video and audio players above.

You can follow The DA Show on Twitter @DAonCBS and @CBSSportsRadio, and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.

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