Davis Mills Is Better Than They Thought: Matt Waldman’s RSP Film Room


Matt Waldman broke down Davis Mills’ rookie performance multiple times last year. He revisits a pair of plays against New England that stood out with the Texans’ quarterback. 

Davis Mills has earned offseason buzz from the usual sources in the football analysis community, getting the stamp of approval from larger media outlets. It’s nice to see because this little shop has been higher on Mills than most.

I broke down Mills multiple times last year, including a piece at Footballguys.com. You can also find a seven-minute review of Mills’ performance against the Patriots that I posted nine months ago.

Here are two plays from this analysis that illustrate why Mills is better than they thought — draft media, football analysts, many scouts, and the Texans’ organization — and why he has earned a full season to audition as the potential franchise quarterback.

Good Quarterbacking Is Skills Integration

Playing quarterback is difficult. So is evaluating it. There are dozens of physical, technical, conceptual, and emotional components to the position in order to understand how it all fits.

For evaluators, it requires honoring that each quarterback is a unique combination of skill sets. Identifying quality performance will not come from adhering to a restrictive standard. It’s better to incorporate performance baselines and then determine if there are strengths in a player’s game that compensate for a player’s weaknesses.

If there’s a common part of NFL-caliber quarterback play, it’s not really how much of a specific skill a passer has relative to the baseline. It’s how well the passer integrates his skills to find productive solutions.

Mills’ best moments are displays of skills integration. In the first video, it’s the integration of coverage processing (a concept), placement (a technique), and decisive timing (emotional confidence).

Do not underrate emotional confidence. A lot of former early-round draft picks failed out of starting gigs because they had an abundance of physical, technique, and conceptual skills but their emotional confidence as a thermometer rather than a thermostat.

This touchdown pass is the integration of coverage reading (conceptual) and pass placement (conceptual and technical). Because it’s a red-zone target, there’s a heightened element of confidence required to deliver the ball in an accelerated timeline relative to field position elsewhere.

These are two of many targets where Mills integrates his skills in a manner befitting an NFL starter. The Texans are rebuilding and Mills will face stiff challenges with his surrounding talent. But after last year, there’s nowhere to go but up and Mills managed to earn himself a legitimate shot as the future of the franchise.

His integrated skills illustrate a feel for the game — something many will cite as an intangible, but I have just broken down the intangible into specific tasks and techniques that can be made quantifiable. It’s why Mills was higher on my pre-draft board than the consensus and why I remain optimistic about his game moving forward.

And of course, if you want to know about the rookies from this draft class, you will find the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), with the 2022 Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95. 

Matt’s new RSP Dynasty Rankings and Two-Year Projections Package is available for $24.95

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

Best yet, proceeds from sales are set aside for a year-end donation to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse of children. 

Categories: 2021 NFL Draft, Analysis, Matt Waldman, Players, Quarterback, The NFL LensTags: , , , , ,

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