Why Mills lands ahead of Stroud on Simms’ rankings

Chris Simms explains to Mike Florio how No. 30 Davis Mills is more developed than No. 37 C.J. Stroud, but lacks an "elite" aspect to his game.

Video Transcript

CJ STROUD: I think I'm a natural born competitor, so that's what I'm here to do. But at the same time, being a great teammate is more important.

I think they're putting things around me, Davis, Case, and the quarterbacks to be successful and lead this team to win. So I'm excited to be in that room to push each other but, at the same time, help each other, which is more important.

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DAVIS MILLS: I mean, since I've been drafted in the NFL, I've been in a competition. I don't think anything is going to change. But, I mean, it's been great getting to know CJ so far. He's an extremely hard worker, and it'll be good to see how we go out there and compete every day and make each other better.

MIKE FLORIO: Davis Mills is a prime example of an NFL player, if he came up to you on the street, you would say, who are you?

CHRIS SIMMS: Probably.

MIKE FLORIO: That's Davis Mills.

CHRIS SIMMS: I hear you.

MIKE FLORIO: There he is.


MIKE FLORIO: Also one of those quarterbacks, and it shows he's destined to be a backup. There is a dynamic in the NFL where there's a cluster of backup quarterbacks who have interchangeable first names and last names. He could be Mills Davis. He could be Davis Mills.


CHRIS SIMMS: You're right.

MIKE FLORIO: He is Davis Mills. It is

CHRIS SIMMS: Funny. Right.

MIKE FLORIO: And look, you can't make it as far as he has-- I mean no disrespect. He played well at Stanford. He was a third-round pick. He became the starter. You can't do what he's done if you don't have confidence in yourself, and you don't just wad it up in a ball and throw it out the window because they drafted a quarterback. You're still there to prove yourself and show what you can do, and you still have that confidence. You're not going to show up and say, I surrender--


MIKE FLORIO: --my prior starting job to the new guy. And look, even if deep down you're not going to be the starter, by bringing a spirit of competition to the table, you make the new guy better.


Matthew Hasselbeck used to take great pride in the fact that he legitimately competed with Andrew Luck to push him to make him better. He knew he wasn't going to be the starter, but he found a way to push. One way to push is to create an air of competition, even if the competition is rigged in favor of the guy who's going to be the starter.

CHRIS SIMMS: Yeah, that's right. And within doing that, you're going to make yourself better. You know, that's what you do, and that's why, you know, you put the pedal to the metal. You put your head down. You work, and you do your best. You compete your butt off, and you see-- maybe who knows how this year shakes out, and hopefully I get a chance again.

You said it right. I mean, Davis Mills does a lot of really good things. He knows how to play the position of quarterback. It doesn't always look like it with wins and losses and the yards and the stats, but also those are team things. Their team hasn't been very good. Their offense has not been very good, right? Now, I'm not sitting there trying to defend him through that, but I think that's where we've got to at least have a little reality to the situation, you know?

And you said it right too. He played well at Stanford. He understands how to work the pocket. He's pretty smart. He sees the field well, right? He's a bigger man than people think. He moves a little bit better than you think, even though it's probably still below-average movement for the NFL quarterback position in 2023, right? You know, arm is good to make all the throws.


The problem is is just that there's nothing elite. There's nothing in his game where you go, oh, wow, that's special. Ooh, he's got a big-time arm or a big athlete or, you know, oh, he can throw the ball with a variety of releases. No, he doesn't. He's kind of mechanical and has the same release every throw all the time, right? He's kind of got below-average quickness of his release, right?

So that's why he's being looked at to be relegated as a backup quarterback. He's a fringe starter, right, who maybe can be cemented as a starter a little later in his career and improve some things and get some more experience, you know? But overall, yeah, he's one of the better backups in football. That's how I kind of look at it when it's all said and done.

You know, he can play the game. He can run the offense. I think if you give him the tools, he can make things a lot happen, but not going to do the backyard football stuff. Not going to be necessarily an aggressive decision maker looking to change the game and make a play that way. Get on my back, guys. Do that. Likes the checkdown a little too much. I think those would probably be the negatives I have about Davis Mills.

MIKE FLORIO: Those of you watching on Peacock saw the graphic. He's number 30 on the Chris Simms quarterback countdown. Those of you listening on Sirius XM 85, I apologize I didn't mention it earlier. And he comes in five spots higher than last year and seven spots higher than the guy who presumably will be the starter for the Texans this year--


CHRIS SIMMS: He should be.


CHRIS SIMMS: Well, it's a seesaw. I'm doing about-- you know, like I said, right now this moment, training camp, sure. I'm taking in a little of the rookies and what they're going to look like in training camp. I don't think CJ Stroud is going to be as good as Davis Mills right away in training camp or in week one. I don't.

But you play him nonetheless because there's the potential of CJ Stroud passing him up in a hurry to where in week six or seven we go, OK, well, maybe he doesn't have the full variety of the playbook available to him like Davis Mills, but we can formulate a game plan with him because his physical ability is so much better that we can play a style and be just as effective and maybe more dangerous with a CJ Stroud.


And I think that's why you play him as long as he doesn't, you know, kind of fail miserably during training camp, and I expect him to be the starter. It's about what it will be, not what it is right now at this second. Yeah, I think Davis Mills is a little better than CJ Stroud right now, as you can tell by my ranking.

MIKE FLORIO: So how do you get the rest of the team to buy in?


MIKE FLORIO: Because they're focused on right now, and you've talked about this in the past, the idea of Kenny Pickett going to Carolina last year when Sam Darnold was there and Darnold can throw it better than Pickett. Matt Corral possibly can throw it better than Bryce Young. How do you get the players on board with someone who doesn't seem to be the best guy for the job having the job under this idea that by the time we get to Halloween, he will be better?


CHRIS SIMMS: Well, I think they'll be able to see that the physical ability is clearly better and that the potential is bigger, right? I think that's going to be the big thing that players will be able to look at. So they're going to go, whoa. Oh, OK. All right. Davis Mills makes the right decision 8 out of 10 times. Stroud-- you know, CJ Stroud right now, it's 6 out of 10 times. But man, out of those six, he made three or four like, whoa, holy-crap throws that Davis Mills cannot make or never made in his eight and will never make in his life, and I think that's where players will have to buy into it.

And then from that they have to hope now, hey, now it's up to our coaches to manage him and come up with the right game plan and work that around CJ Stroud and do it that way. And that's where, you know, the players will buy into that, right? At the end of the day, it'll be that overall supreme athletic talent that Stroud has that's better than Davis Mills that will buy him time with the locker room to go, it's coming along. We're going to be something once he gets there, and we've just got to take a few lumps right now, and the locker room can get around that.