In a league dominated by QBs, it is a near guarantee that one wins the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. While Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are clearly the favorites going in, there are several other players who may get their chance to go after the award such as, Mac Jones, Trey Lance, or Justin Fields. However, in my analytics, I have found one QB who may surprise everyone, and take home the Offensive Rookie of the Year trophy for himself: Houston Texans QB, Davis Mills.
Davis Mills is a former starting quarterback for the Stanford Cardinals, who possesses solid short and intermediate accuracy. He shows solid touch on deep routes on occasion but needs some development there. He is coming from a system that is pro-style and should not be too different from the one run in Houston. David Shaw, the head coach for Stanford nearly a decade now, spoke highly of Mills when he said “[Mills] is an NFL ready quarterback that, in my opinion, rivals [Justin Fields, Mac Jones, and Trey Lance],” (via the Rich Eisen Show). While this seems like a bold statement, Shaw knows an NFL QB when he is working with one.
Mills has all of the tools of these next 3 quarterbacks, but he also has adept knowledge when it comes to adjusting pre-snap and understanding the blocking scheme. He certainly has the potential to play right away but that isn’t necessarily enough to be the OROY.
Mills is coming into what a lot of people see as one of the worst situations in the league with the Houston Texans. In the case that Deshaun Watson doesn’t see the field for the Texans again, Houston must choose between Tyrod Taylor and Mills to be their starter. However, neither quarterback would be set up with a bad cast of supporting players. Brandin Cooks, Keke Coutee, Randall Cobb, and Nico Collins make up a quality wide receiver room with a great blend of contested catch, deep threat, and slot RAC technician guys. Brevin Jordan is a dynamic rookie tight end that adds a great weapon to an already great core.
In addition, their offensive line has a great mix of good veteran talent, Laremy Tunsil, Marcus Cannon, and Lane Taylor, and young potential breakouts, Tytus Howard, Max Sharping, and Hjalte Froholdt. In the backfield, the Texans have Mark Ingram and David Johnson, as well as the younger Phillip Lindsey, all of whom have the potential to carry the offense. Mills has quite a team surrounding him on offense but what is there to put him in a position to succeed?
Houston’s passing game coordinator/Quarterbacks coach, Pep Hamilton is equipped to bring Mills’ game to the NFL, and build upon Mills’ foundational skills to put together a great QB. Last year, as the Chargers’ QB coach, Pep Hamilton completely changed how 2020 Rookie of the Year, Justin Herbert, played against pressure for the better. Pep also helped Herbert with how he saw the field and aided him massively in translating his clear raw potential into a solid QB option for the majority of the 2020 campaign. In addition, Pep has worked with David Shaw in the past and, even helped Andrew Luck to translate from the Stanford system to that of an NFL team’s.
I firmly believe that Pep is the perfect mentor for Mills to display immediate success, and in culmination with the already well-equipped supporting cast on the Texans, I think that there is certainly potential for Davis Mills to put up numbers that rival other rookie quarterbacks. Mills, in my eyes, is the biggest and least talked about sleeper OROY pick, and I would not be surprised by a stunning showing from him in 2021.
Photo: Mark Lane