Any team in need of a quarterback would love to find the next Russell Wilson.
Of course, finding a dual-threat passer capable of lifting an entire offense with his playmaking ability is easier said than done. Yet Wilson’s rise from third-round pick to eight-time Pro Bowl selection for the Seattle Seahawks has skewed expectations on the level of quarterback talent available to teams on Day 2 of the NFL draft.
Since Wilson was selected in 2012, there have been 16 quarterbacks taken in Rounds 2 and 3. The sum of their contributions is decidedly underwhelming. The highlights include Derek Carr’s emergence as a starter, Jimmy Garoppolo’s promising if unfulfilling run with the San Francisco 49ers after being traded by the New England Patriots, and Drew Lock and Jalen Hurts still having a shot to solidify their standing. Otherwise, the list is rife with starters who proved untenable (Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, DeShone Kizer), backups who couldn’t break through (Davis Webb, Will Grier) and others who couldn’t keep themselves on an active roster (Christian Hackenberg, Garrett Grayson).
It should come as no surprise, then, that the buzz surrounding this year’s potential Day 2 quarterbacks is muted. But while they might not measure up at this point in their careers to the five passers selected in the first round Thursday, these three players who could be picked Friday still have a chance to hook on as developmental prospects.
Davis Mills, Stanford
A five-star recruit in 2017, Mills never quite lived up to his billing during his time at Stanford, starting just 11 games over two seasons. But the 6-3, 217-pound signal-caller has the physical makeup that teams covet from the position. Though he doesn’t have an expansive body of work, Mills has exhibited the confidence and arm strength to thread tight-window throws and deep strikes down the sideline.
“I think Davis is an NFL starter. He’s got the makeup mentally, he’s got the makeup physically,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said. “You go back to the film and what the film tells me is this is an NFL-ready quarterback that rivals those next three (Jones, Fields and Lance). After the top two, he’s right in the mix in my opinion, when you watch the film.”
Despite those tools, however, Mills is a good deal behind the class’ top five quarterbacks in his development. His aggressive approach and tendency to stare down his primary read can lead to an overabundance of turnover-worthy throws. Mills’ footwork and mechanics can also break down when he’s under pressure, which could be especially problematic at the next level given his struggles to maneuver in the pocket to buy time.
That overall package could make Mills a somewhat polarizing prospect for teams, particularly depending on their quarterback situation. For a franchise looking to bring along a young passer behind an established veteran, however, Mills might be an enticing option on Day 2.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
If Mills is the unknown entity among the possible Friday quarterback picks, Mond is the proven product after serving as the Aggies’ starter for four years. His improvement as a senior, when he set the school record for career passing yards and threw for 19 touchdowns with just three interceptions, augurs well for his draft stock. At 6-3 and 211 pounds, Mond is comfortable making throws from the pocket and on the move.
“Kellen had just an amazing career,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said in a news conference. “He’s played a lot of amazing football compared to some of these quarterbacks. … He’s a sharp guy. He’s very serious about it, and he’s all in — in terms of being the best quarterback he can be.”
NFL defenses will prove particularly challenging early on for Mond, whose robotic and stiff approach inhibited his intermediate and deep passing ability. Until he learns to better adjust to defenses and throw with sharper anticipation and timing, Mond might not be seen as more than a backup who could be brought along over time, leaving him somewhere in the middle rounds.
Kyle Trask, Florida
In a bygone era, Trask might have been seen as having the requisite tools to be a starting quarterback given his 6-5, 234-pound build, touch and improving arm strength. He took a significant step forward in 2020, throwing for 43 touchdowns en route to being named a Heisman Trophy finalist.
“He might not be in that group of the top five quarterbacks now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if 10 years from now he’s in the group of top five quarterbacks in this year’s draft,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said in April on ESPN’s “Greeny” podcast.
At the next level, Trask won’t have the luxury of the nearly optimal circumstances he was afforded by top tight end Kyle Pitts and the rest of Florida’s offense, which could spell trouble. He came undone when deprived of his top targets in the Gators’ Cotton Bowl collapse to Oklahoma, and his below-average mobility could keep him from becoming a starter if he can’t hold up against pressure and speed up his process. Still, he has a solid chance of being the first quarterback selected Friday.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.