2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Davis Millsby Alex Barbour March 6, 2021 1 comment
Darkhorse alert! Few know the name Davis Mills. That is because he only has 11 starts in his entire career (yes, you read that correctly). Mills has the size and the talent to project to the NFL, but the real question remains: Is he ready? Although his age does not suggest it, Mills looks to be very raw. Let’s dive in to see if there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Reports.
Name: Davis Mills
Weight: 225 lbs
Mills has had a major progression in terms of his accuracy. His 2019 tape had major problems: horrible on-the-move accuracy, air mailing passes, not to mention a lack of solid ball placement on most levels of the field. That seemed to change a noticeable amount as he headed into 2020. Mills demonstrated an extremely improved throw on the run accuracy (running forward, right, and left). He adjusted his accuracy to account for his newly-developed variation of ball speed and arc. There were still some throws that were not perfectly on target, but the progression was beyond anything his 2019 tape hinted at. This category could not be written if it were not mentioning Mills’s red zone accuracy. Across 2019 and 2020, Mills had excellent ball placement on ‘rainbow’ throws and end zone fades. With these routes being heavily used in the NFL, this is a major boost for his projection. In short, Mills is far from perfect, but he has shown the tools and progression to provide plenty of promise to any franchise that so chooses him.
Throw Power (6.75/10)
Mills has spotty throw power. He can put some zip on the ball most of the time, but he has many instances where his arm strength appears to be lacking. His overall throw strength was a problem in 2019, where he did not have correct mechanics (which will be discussed later). In 2020 the same problems remained, but Mills tweaked some things and added more throw power to his arsenal. He threw a 50-yard pass (which was called back after being intercepted) that stayed up in the air for too long, giving the safety time to recover and make a play. In short, Mills has the range, but he does not have the power to rope it when he needs to. He will need to be in a scheme that prioritizes one-on-one’s and shorter passes to maximize Mills’s potential as a passer.
Mills heavily lacks in this realm. His 2019 tape showed absolutely zero anticipation, which led to many poor decisions. There was one throw in the 2020 tape that had Mills throwing on the run with anticipation to a curl route. This throw did not need a high IQ for its placement, but there was progression to some extent. Mills, unfortunately, might be the worst in the class (that can potentially start one day) in this category. Again, he is raw, so do not rule out Mills developing this trait as time goes on. Note: This scale uses 5.0 as average, 10.0 as the greatest of all time.
Similar to his lack of anticipation, Mills does not always go through any progressions whatsoever. He does have a solid check-down timer, however. Mills stares down reads and forces balls into poor situations, especially in 2019. His 2020 tape showed solid improvement on the decision-making part (which will be discussed next). Overall, Mills showed improvement here this year, but he still is heavily lacking when it comes to rolling through reads.
Decision Making (4.25/10)
Mills improved on this tremendously. He originally was going to get a 1.25/10 for his 2019 performance vs. Notre Dame, where he forced balls time and time again. Even this year vs. Cal, Mills had some throws that were not the right decision. This said he did appear to be more comfortable extending the play and trying to find the right target. Of all of his throws Mills threw one pass out of bounds. It is an exponential improvement from 2019, but he needs to feel okay with restarting the play with one less down to go.
Poise / Pocket Presence (7.75/10)
Mills usually looks very confident in the pocket. He feels everything to an extremely high IQ level for his experience level. 2020 saw a major jump in his timing to scramble, but the best part of his development is that he did not pull his eyes down. With his increased accuracy on the run, Mills seemed comfortable keeping his eyes up and making a play outside of the pocket even though his legs seemed to be his go-to option in 2019. As long as he does not hold the ball for too long in the pocket as he did in 2019, Mills will be far ahead of many other quarterback prospects in this draft.
This is the epitome of Mills’s improvement. He does have a long release still, so there are some batted balls; however, Mills changed his throwing mechanics slightly to put more power into his front leg when he threw. This created a noticeably more comfortable release and more powerful throw. His on the run accuracy also improved due to Mills being able to keep his shoulders square and his mind calm. He can change his arm angle, and Mills developed his differentiation of ball speeds and arcs tremendously in 2020.
Mills moves very well for a man of his stature. His mobility may be the sole reason he continued to start in 2019. Mills was seen shrugging off tacklers and scrambling for first downs on a regular occasion. He even was used in options a few times. Mills is no track star, nor does he know how to slide, but he does use his mobility to its highest potential. This may be the reason why Mills is in the late day two talk. He is far from a statue in the pocket.
Play Extension (8.25/10)
As stated before, Mills can feel when the pocket collapses and escape with ease. With his increased throw-on-the-run accuracy, Mills can also provide a dangerous threat with his arm when flushed out of the pocket. The only problem is that he tends to break the pocket too often. Changing to a scramble-to-throw approach instead of a scramble approach outside of the pocket helps Mills when the NFL loves to feast on antsy passers. If he can stay calm and get his timing and throwing even more accurate, Mills may be a perfect prospect to take over and run a franchise. The bottom line is that Mills has the tools to be a good starting quarterback.
Competitive Toughness (4.75/5)
Mills was seen pushing the pile to gain an extra yard for his running back. He also is willing to take a hit to throw the ball downfield. The most important aspect for this category was how Mills developed and improved every aspect of his game even though he had a short season and an impossible offseason due to COVID-19.
Injuries haunted the start of Mills’s collegiate career, but it appears as if those injuries are in the past.
Mills is a pure projection for the NFL. He is an enigma. Mills is on pace to develop into a starting-caliber quarterback, but as of now, he is a third-stringer at best. If he can be mentored by a solid veteran like Matt Ryan or Ryan Tannehill, Mills may be able to develop into a franchise quarterback. The major issue lies in the fact that the NFL is impatient. With the throw power, mechanics, mobility, and IQ all improving, Mills can be the steal of the draft. The issue remains: will he maintain this progression course? This draft will certainly be telling of whether or not that is the case.
Final Grade (62.75/100): Late Third Round
Player Comp: Ryan Tannehill