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Quantifying Quarterbacks: Davis Mills

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Quantifying Quarterbacks is an NFL Draft focused quarterback charting project geared toward providing as much information about as much of a quarterback’s recent career as possible. Over 20 data points are recorded for any given pass attempt, ranging from down-and-distance, personnel grouping, play-action, depth of target, accuracy, and much more. Quantifying Quarterbacks charts the entirety of a quarterback’s final college season, as well as a smaller sample (four games) from their previous season. All of this charting is done manually by me during and after the college football season. For a more in-depth look at what exactly Quantifying Quarterbacks is, here is a link to last year’s final product: 2020 Quantifying Quarterbacks.

Distance (Usage Rate)

Left Outside

Left Middle

Right Middle

Right Outside

Total

4/9 (1 TD)

1/6 (2 INT)

2/6

6/15 (2 TD)

13/36 (3 TD, 2 INT)

3/6

3/5

5/7 (1 TD, 1 INT)

2/7

13/25 (1 TD, 1 INT)

4/9 (2 TD, 1 INT)

14/16 (1 INT)

8/11 (1 TD)

3/7

29/43 (3 TD, 2 INT)

3/4 (1 TD)

14/20

14/18

5/8 (1 TD)

36/50 (2 TD)

8/10 (1 INT)

28/34

25/29

6/9

67/82 (1 INT)

7/8

24/30

20/23 (1 TD)

5/7

56/68 (1 TD)

29/46 (5 TD, 1 INT)

84/111 (3 INT)

74/94 (3 TD, 1 INT)

27/53 (3 TD)

214/304 (10 TD, 6 INT)

Games Charted: USC (2019), Cal (2019), Washington (2019), Notre Dame (2019), Colorado (2020), Cal (2020), Washington (2020), UCLA (2020)

CHARTING EXTRAS

Blatant Drops: 13 (4.22%)

Forced Adjustments: 23 (7.47%)

Contested Drops: 13 (4.22%)

Passes Defended: 32 (10.39%)

Explosive: 24 (7.79%)

Throwaways: 4

Stanford QB Davis Mills’ accuracy by target area is perplexing. To all but one area of the field, Mills posted average-or-worse accuracy marks. Mills was particularly rough down the field, posting the worst and second-worst marks in the 16-20 and 20-plus yard ranges, respectively. Mills also tied for the fewest amount of accurate passes behind the line of scrimmage despite Stanford’s offense asking him to do it at a relatively high rate.

And yet, Mills was slightly above-average to the 11-15 yard range, which is both the toughest and most valuable part of the field in terms of evaluation, for my money. Mills was especially strong on Stanford’s many seam routes, often showing off good enough touch and velocity to place those throws accurately. The caveat is that only one other QB in this class (Jamie Newman) targeted that area less often, so it may be fair to say Mills tended to target that area when it was clearly favorable, as opposed to others such as Zach Wilson and Trey Lance who were more willing to test their luck in that difficult area of the field.

What also stands out with Mills’ numbers in this section is how alarming his forced adjustments and passes defended rates are. Only Kyle Trask threw more passes that required adjustments from his receivers, while no other QB had their passes outright defended than Mills. In fact, no other QB even cleared the 10% mark in that area, and only three cleared 9%. It is clear in the charting data that Mills regularly put the ball in harm’s way and made things difficult for his wide receivers, which is a sentiment that presents itself even if just watching the film. A good portion of this has to do with how often Mills will fire into windows that are not there because he failed to consider how moving parts in zone coverage interact with each other.

Lastly, Mills’ explosive pass rate is horrendous. His 7.79% rate of explosive passes is the worst in the class by more than a full percentage point. Some of this can be blamed on Stanford’s offense not having the most stud-filled pass-catching corps, but as mentioned before, Mills was simply not accurate down the field. The blame here is equal among the two parties, at best.

ACCURACY AND ENVIRONMENT

Adjusted Accuracy: 69.21%

Outside the Pocket Percentage: 8.12%

Adjusted Accuracy Outside the Pocket: 60.00%

Under Pressure Percentage: 13.64%

Adjusted Accuracy Under Pressure: 67.38%

Most Common Personnel Package: 10 personnel (47.08%)

Shotgun Percentage: 91.23%

Empty Formations Frequency: 1.21%

Play-Action / RPO Percentage: 17.21%

Play-Action Adjusted Accuracy: 72.83%

Designed Rollout Frequency: 3.90%

Mills’ overall accuracy does him no help. At 69.21%, the only QB in this class to fare worse than him was Newman. Mond was the only other QB, in addition to Mills and Newman, to fall below the 70% mark. Seeing as Mills was already viewed (or should be) as a Day 3 pick, it’s not too surprising that this is his company, but there is no “diamond in the rough” feeling with his overall accuracy numbers.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Mills’ profile is how he fared under pressure. On the one hand, Mills’ 67.38% adjusted accuracy under pressure is excellent. Mills is one of just three QBs to clear the 60% mark and only Mac Jones earned a better figure in this area. However, Mills was also pressured less often than all of his peers in this class. One might expect that being pressured less often allows a QB some ease of mind in the event that he is pressured, seeing as the mental toll of being pressured tends to add up over the course of a game. That was seldom an issue Mills had to deal with.

The only other notable pieces in this section are minor. For one, Mills rarely played out of empty. As I have said many times before, I believe playing from empty can showcase a QB’s ability to play fast, accurate football and helps illustrate how much a coaching staff trusted them. Stanford had the OL to hold up in empty, too, so it is somewhat curious to me that Stanford hardly ever used it with Mills at the helm.

The final note, which is neither a criticism or praise of Mills, is that my personnel charting is based on alignment, not whatever players are designated on the depth chart. It is just a means to help me see how often a team was going four-wide versus, say, having two tight ends on the line of scrimmage. Stanford played with tight ends often, but regularly lined them up in these four-wide formations, which is why Mills’ “10 personnel” rate is so high despite what we all believe the Stanford offense to be.

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PASS RUSH

Avg. Number of Pass Rushers: 4.22

Three or Fewer Pass Rushers Frequency: 12.01%

Four Pass Rushers Frequency: 62.34%

Five Pass Rushers Frequency: 18.51%

Six or More Pass Rushers Frequency: 7.14%

Mills is another QB in this class whose rate of blitzes faced is quite low. Perhaps this was because Pac-12 teams are just less aggressive in general, perhaps it is because defenses did not feel the need to pressure Mills in order to bait poor decisions out of him. Given Mills’ excellence while under pressure compared to his questionable decision making with extra bodies in coverage, the latter explanation certainly holds some water.

SITUATIONAL

3rd/4th Down Adjusted Accuracy: 61.60%

3rd/4th Down Conversion Rate: 46.91%

4th Quarter/Overtime Adjusted Accuracy: 52.87%

Red Zone Adjusted Accuracy: 58.44%

To be blunt: Mills has the worst situational profile of any QB in this class. Mills has the lowest accuracy numbers in the fourth quarter/overtime as well as in the red zone, and is only slightly better than Trey Lance on third/fourth downs. Mills’ conversion rate on third/fourth downs is also third-worst in the class. There is no real redeeming factor here.

Moreover, the other QB with some questionable numbers across the board in situational football is Lance. The difference, however, is Lance is an exceptional runner. Lance picked up a number of conversions and touchdowns with his legs, both through scrambles and designed runs. As such, you can make the argument that Lance’s passing numbers have a bit of a selection bias going, since many of his positive plays in these splits were not passes. Mills is nowhere close to that type of athlete and does not get that same benefit of doubt.

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