2021 NFL Draft: Surprise quarterback could go in first round

We already know that five quarterbacks will be first-round selections once the 2021 NFL Draft comes calling. That group is headed by Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, who are slated to be off the board with the first two selections.

It’s an open question what’s going to happen with Mac Jones, Trey Lance and Justin Fields. Reports suggest that the San Francisco 49ers are still deciding between Jones and Lance with the New England Patriots potentially looking to move into the top 10 for Fields.

This is a major backdrop during what promises to be an historical NFL Draft at the quarterback position. It could also include two lesser-known signal callers in Kellen Mond and Kyle Trask sneaking into the first round.

According to NFL Draft insider Tony Pauline from Pro Football Network, that might not be the extent of quarterbacks slated to go Thursday evening in Cleveland.

“There’s been some chatter about Davis Mills ending up in the first round, and there’s no doubt the former Stanford quarterback is massively rising up boards. I’ve spoken highly about the Stanford quarterback the past few months and wrote at length on him after attending a pro-day-style workout he ran through at the Senior Bowl,” Pauline noted. “Several people tell me the chatter is the New England Patriots possibly selecting Mills in the first round, though it will be a late-first-round selection via a trade down from No. 15 or trade up from the second round.”

Now, this comes completely out of left field. Up until recently, Davis Mills has been seen as a mid-to-late round selection. After all, the former Stanford quarterback threw all of 438 passes throughout his three-year college football career.

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Read More: 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Expert Picks & Analysis on Round 1 Prospects

Davis Mills as a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft?

2021 NFL Draft: Davis Mills, Stanford
Nov 30, 2019; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Davis Mills (15) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

At 6-foot-4 and 217 pounds, Mills certainly does look like a prototypical quarterback that teams such as the New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers might be inclined to take a chance on. He has a strong arm, boasts plus-level intermediate accuracy and acted the part of a team leader for the Cardinal over the past two seasons.

Even then, the idea of using a top-32 pick on a quarterback that’s this inexperienced seems to be a bit foolhardy. Remember, there was some push back when the Chicago Bears made Mitchell Trubisky a top-two pick in the 2017 NFL Draft — primarily due to his lack of experience. Trubisky threw 572 passes during his career with North Carolina. How did that work out for Chicago?

Read More: 2021 NFL Draft big board: Ranking top 100 prospects

Potential fits for Davis Mills in 2021 NFL Draft

  • New England Patriots: As Pauline noted in his report, some around the NFL believe that New England could opt for Mills rather than trading up into the top 10 for Justin Fields. The idea here would be for New England to move down to the bottom of Round 1, picking up more draft assets in the process. The Pats have firmly been linked to quarterbacks during the pre-draft process after retaining a struggling Cam Newton earlier in the offseason.
  • New Orleans Saints: Despite likely seeing Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill compete for the starting job this summer, the Saints have also been linked to quarterback prospects leading up to the NFL Draft. Primarily, the idea has been for Sean Payton and Co. to go after either Mond or Trask at 28. Both have been getting first-round play recently. Perhaps, Payton likes Davis Mills more.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The defending champs are in a unique position selecting 32nd overall Thursday evening. They return all 22 starters from last season’s Super Bowl team and don’t really have an immediate need. It has led to speculation that general manager Jason Licht could look for an eventual heir-apparent to Tom Brady. Obviously a project, Mills could make sense to learn behind Brady for a couple years.