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Reaction: CBS Sports Ranks Texans Quarterback Last In The AFC

In his latest edition of AFC quarterback rankings, Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports put Texans’ QB, Davis Mills, dead last. Now, Mills is no Patrick Mahomes. But, to rank him last in the AFC demonstrates a lack of football knowledge and is a clear attempt at clickbait. That being said, the post does bring up an important question: Where does Davis Mills rank amongst the AFC’s starting quarterbacks?

Y'all agree or disagree?? — CBS Sports (@CBSSports) June 9, 2022

What CBS Sports Got Wrong

Firstly, there are a couple of things CBS sports was undeniably wrong about in their ranking of Mills. So much so, that a majority of the comments on this post are actually supporting the Texans and their starting quarterback. Shocker right? The biggest error was placing Steelers’ rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett above Mills.

First of all, Pickett has yet to start a single NFL game. In fact, he’s only spent a little more than a month on an NFL team. Not to mention, he likely won’t even be the Steelers’ starter in week one. Mills, on the other hand, has started multiple NFL games and performed well enough to earn back the starting job in year two. Same thing with Zach Wilson. In no world should either of them be ranked below Kenny Pickett. End of discussion.

Speaking of Zach Wilson, he should not be ranked higher than Mills either. Sure, in theory, Wilson has a higher ceiling than Mills, considering he was selected 65 picks sooner in the 2021 NFL Draft. But, so far, Wilson has done nothing much to prove it. A basic look at their year one stats tells the story:

Both Mills and Wilson played in 13 games in 2021, attempting close to the same number of passes. However, while Mills threw for over 2,600 yards, Wilson threw for just 2,300. While Mills completed 67% of his passes, Wilson completed just 55%. While Mills threw for sixteen touchdowns, Wilson tossed just nine. And, most glaring of all, Davis Mills finished the year with an impressive passer rating of 88.8. Meanwhile, Zach Wilson’s passer rating of 69.7 ranked last amongst rookies (minimum 70 pass attempts). Plus, Mills did all of this on a Texans team that was slightly worse than the Jets.

Clearly, Cody Benjamin’s ranking of Wilson over Mills was based on “status and popularity” rather than actual play on the football field.

The Case For Mills To Keep Climbing

So, Mills is clearly better than Pickett and Wilson, at least right now. No further argument is needed. But, I think Mills should be even higher on this list. Next up is Tua Tagoviloa, one of the most hotly debated quarterbacks in the NFL. And, a comparison of him and Mills gets very interesting.

The stats of Davis Mills and Tua Tagolviloa from last year are almost identical. Both threw for 16 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and completed 67% of their passes. Tua threw for just 11 yards less than Mills on roughly the same number of attempts. And, as Mills finished the year with a passer rating of 88.8, Tua finished with a rating of 90.1. No matter how you slice it, these two quarterbacks played the same in 2021.

So why should Mills get the edge? Because of the simple fact that Mills put up his numbers on a much worse team. The Texans had a worse offensive line, defense, run game, overall receiving core, coaching, etc. than the Dolphins. Tua was set up for success and failed. Mills was set up for failure and succeeded. Using that logic, Mills deserves to be ranked above Tua, at least for the time being.

An AFC South Battle

Continuing up the list, Davis Mills is placed head to head with fellow rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Similar to Zach Wilson, many in the national media automatically assume Lawrence to be better than Mills due to his college accolades and higher draft status. However, what most of these pundits fail to consider, is the simple fact that Davis Mills outplayed Trevor Lawrence in 2021.

Allow me to rattle off the stats once more: Davis Mills averaged 6.8 yards per attempt while Trevor Lawrence averaged just 6.0. Mills completed 66.8% of his passes while Lawrence completed just 59.6%. Mills threw for more touchdowns than Lawrence (16 to 12) while also throwing for fewer interceptions (10 to 17). Finally, Davis Mills finished the year with a passer rating of 88.8, while Trevor Lawrence finished with an unimpressive rating of 71.9.

The stats clearly prove that Mills was more accurate, more intelligent, and an overall better QB in comparison to Lawrence last year. Of course, the immediate pushback to this sentiment is that “stats don’t tell the full story” and “Lawrence was in the worst situation of any rookie quarterback”. However, the situations of Mills and Lawrence were almost the exact same.

Both quarterbacks were brought into bottom-of-the-barrel franchises whose coaches were fired after only a year. Both were sacked the same number of times. Mills actually had to contend with a far worse rushing offense and defense than Lawrence. And, while Lawrence was practically handed the keys to the franchise, Mills was competing for the starting job the entire year. At the least, situation is a non-factor in this debate, as taking it into consideration helps the case for either quarterback. Thus, in comparing actual, on-field results, Davis Mills is a better NFL quarterback than Trevor Lawrence after year one.

Playing For The Texans

With all the aforementioned arguments, I have Davis Mills ranked 12th in the AFC. Given his situation, I actually think he has a case over fellow rookie quarterback Mac Jones and even division rival Ryan Tannehill. That being said, I’ll stick with 12 for now, as Mills will certainly need to prove himself further in year two. While it’s still a relatively low ranking, it is way higher than any Texans fan could have predicted just a year ago when the team drafted Mills at the top of the third round. Most importantly, it’s a justifiable ranking based on logic and well-rounded reasoning.

Speaking of which, let’s circle back to the CBS Sports post. Evidently, this list was put together by someone begging for views. Or, a self-proclaimed “expert” who went off of draft status rather than on-field results in the NFL. Whatever the case, it highlights an increasing problem in sports media that I like to call “playing for the Texans”. In other words, just because a player is on a bad team, they are automatically viewed in lower regard. It happened with legends like Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. It happened with Deshaun Watson before he turned crazy. And now, it’s happening to guys like Davis Mills and Brandin Cooks.

It needs to stop. From the judging of a team’s moves based on the practices of former regimes. To the assumptions made about players on certain teams. The national sports media must put their desire for views aside and conduct honest, factual journalism. If not, it will only continue to shape unfair narratives and biases against players and teams that do not deserve it.

Where do you think Davis Mills ranks amongst the AFC’s starting quarterbacks? Leave a comment below!

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