The pressure is on Davis Mills to perform this season. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.
If a picture is worth a thousand words ... here's a pick that's worth a whole season of bar arguments, second guessing and endless hours of talk show chatter.
The Athletic, published its insanely too early 2023 NFL mock draft. They used a combination of Vegas projected win totals, evaluations of top prospects, analysis of team needs, and plain old guesswork.
First of all, publishing a mock draft before most colleges have played a single down of football is one step below watching the BacheloretteBelow Deck on Love Island, who's gonna wind up in bed with the No. 1 pick?
But look at who's drafting No. 2 and who they're taking in the Athletic's crystal ball draft: Houston Texans select C.J. Stroud, quarterback, Ohio State.
Think what that means. For starters, the Athletic is saying that the Texans will have the second-worst record in the NFL for the upcoming season. Even more telling, they have the Texans taking a quarterback, which implies that current Texans quarterback, second-year Davis Mills will have a disappointing sophomore year forcing the Texans to draft another signal caller. Which means back to the drawing board for the franchise.
Which means more disappointment, more chaos and turmoil, more fan apathy, more complaining, more calls for Cal McNair to sell the team, more half-empty stands at NRG Stadium and more pleas for Jack Easterby to pack his bags and get out of Houston. The only thing missing is a big tarp covering the upper deck.
How's that for one imaginary pick? If the Athletic wanted to stir it up in Houston, they sure did.
Eight quarterbacks were taken in the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL draft - a record. They were:
1. Trevor Lawrence - Jaguars.
2. Zach Wilson - Jets.
3. Trey Lance - '49ers.
11. Justin Fields - Bears.
15. Mac Jones - Patriots
64. Kyle Trask - Buccaneers.
66. Kellen Mond - Vikings.
67. Davis Mills - Texans.
You can make an argument that Mills out-performed the other seven quarterbacks last year. I'm not talking about potential, just who did the best in 2021. Mills threw 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, with an 88.8 passer rating for a dreadful team. As Larry David would say, pretty pretty pretty good.
Yes, Jones had numbers (22 TDs, 13 interceptions) but he’s really, at least so far, a system quarterback who dinks the ball. Lawrence (12 TDs, 17 interceptions) and Wilson (9 TDs, 11 interceptions) played poorly with awful teams and in Lawrence's case, an imbecilic head coach. Fields (7 TDs, 10 interceptions) showed flashes but little consistency. Mond, Lance, and Trask didn’t need to shower after games.
Meanwhile Davis had one of the top efficiency ratings on deep balls, played admirably and did the best with the least. He is the unchallenged QB1 for the Texans heading into this year. And yet the Athletic has the Texans tossing him aside next year.
While the Athletic has the Texans picking a quarterback, they have the Jets taking a pass rusher, Bears (cornerback), Jaguars (wide receiver), Patriots (defensive tackle), Vikings (linebacker), and Buccaneers (pass rusher). Notable that the Vikings are steering clear of a quarterback even though they've already released Mond.
Ironically, reports say the Texans really wanted Mond in the 2021 draft but the Vikings beat them to the punch by one position.
They say that sometimes the best phones calls are the ones you don't make. Same for draft picks.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.