HOUSTON (AP) — Amid major uncertainty surrounding Deshaun Watson, the Houston Texans selected Stanford quarterback Davis Mills with their first pick in the NFL draft on Friday night.
Watson's future with the team is in question after 22 women filed lawsuits alleging that he sexually assaulted or harassed them. Houston police and the NFL are investigating the allegations, leaving his future with the team up in the air. Even before all that Watson had been unhappy with the direction of the team and requested a trade earlier this year.
Houston general manager Nick Caserio would not say whether the problems surrounding Watson factored into the team's decision to draft Mills.
“When it came time to pick at 67, we felt that (Mills) was the best decision for our team at the time," Caserio said. “It doesn’t impact anybody. Again, our whole philosophy has been to create as much competition as possible and we’ll continue to do that.”
Mills was asked how much he knows about Watson's legal situation.
“Not much about it, obviously," he said. “The only thing I can control is how I how I handle myself."
Caserio avoided the question when asked if he could see Mills developing into a franchise quarterback in the future.
“It’s really just about adding players to your football team that you want to work with and have some of the qualities that you desire,” he said.
Mills was a two-year starter at Stanford where he threw for 1,509 yards and seven touchdowns in last year’s pandemic-shortened season. He threw for a career-high 1,960 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019.
“I can’t do it from the start, but I think my leadership ability is up there,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve got to get in front of some of my teammates, and start building that respect by putting in hard work and then the next thing, just that winning mentality and that ability on the field.”
The Texans also traded this year's fourth-round pick (109th overall), one of this season's fifth-round picks (158) and a fourth-round pick next season to Carolina to move up to select Michigan receiver Nico Collins with the 89th pick.
Houston needed a receiver after star Will Fuller signed with the Dolphins during free agency. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Collins opted out of the 2020 season after grabbing 76 receptions for 729 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019. That came after he had 632 yards receiving with six TDs in 2018.
“My size is an advantage," he said. “I feel like that’s a part of my game that I excel in. I play big. I play physical."
The Texans didn't have picks in the first two rounds this season after they traded away their slots in the 2019 deal with Miami that brought left tackle Laremy Tunsil to Houston.
Caserio signed veteran Tyrod Taylor to give the team an insurance policy at quarterback if Watson can’t or won’t play for them next season.
Taylor signed a one-year deal with Houston after spending the past two seasons with the Chargers. He started one game last season before being sidelined when a team doctor accidentally punctured his lung when giving a painkilling injection for a rib injury. By the time he recovered, Taylor had lost his starting job to Justin Herbert.
Drafting Mills gives the Texans more depth at the position along with Ryan Finley, acquired from the Bengals in March.
The Texans have five picks remaining on the last day of the draft. Their first pick on Saturday is in the fifth round at No. 147 and they have three sixth-round picks and one selection in the seventh.
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